21 Dec 2020
Clean Air 365- a real possibility for India
What concrete steps can we take individually and collectively to clean out air?

This isn’t a utopian wish, the lockdown has shown us that clean air and clear skies are possible in India. The West has transformed it’s black smokey skies to clear beautiful ones, why can’t we? It is possible if we the people of India make clean air an absolute priority.

Gurgaon skies in May 2020/Image by Dr. Sarika Verma

We are all exhausted fretting about the air outside. What steps can we take and how soon can we hope the government’s #NationalCleanAirPlan will start showing results in terms of improvement in air quality.

Citizens’ efforts- we must start all these right away if not practising already:

1. Segregate waste at source

2. Prevent and report garbage burning (17% air pollution)

3. Carpool

4. Buy Electric vehicles

5. Cycle/walk when air quality permits

6. Switch off engines at red light when waiting time is more than 10 seconds.

7. Give up fuel guzzler vehicles (14% air pollution)

8. Absolutely No crackers

9. Install solar power on terraces.

10. Plant trees. Create small urban forests in whatever space you have.

Government tasks- I’m hoping to see some serious action on these.

1. Vacuuming trucks round the clock to reduce road dust.

2. Enforce construction sites/ trucks transporting material are properly covered.

3. Enforce public vehicles/ old vehicles do not pollute. Formulate a means of public reporting of such defaulters and fine/impound repeat offenders

4. Provide farmers alternatives to stubble burning like Happy harvester or PUSA decomposer. No point in knee-jerk bans or fines.

5. Plan to ban firecrackers in polluted states like Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and all metro cities for at least 3 years until the baseline air quality improves.

6. Replace coal-based power plants with renewal fuel in a time-bound manner. This should be a 3-5 year plan, not infinity.

7. Create composting units in every residential sector. Organize waste recycling so it happens at the source.

8. E-waste collection centres at multiple points in every city.

9.Increase forest cover on priority. Do not permit tree cutting unless due diligence is done on alternative sites, case in point Aarey Metro shed.

10. Provide uninterrupted power supply so diesel generators can be defunct (9% air pollution)

Let us together as a nation work on improving air quality. Lakhs of people die every year due to poor air. Lakhs of people develop cancer due to air pollutants. Children have asthma, mental retardation and learning disabilities due to bad air.

Drop everything else and focus on #CleanAirForAll!

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