To inform people about the need to protect them from air pollution and to gather people's support, Greenpeace organized an event at the Dilli Haat. The event calls on the government to make urgent improvements to the National Air Quality Index (NAQI).
The event was organized and led by volunteers to raise awareness on air pollution as part of the Clean Air Nation campaign. The volunteers through interactive activities approached and informed Delhiites about the threat of air pollution and relevant precautionary measures to be taken to fight this menace. The event observed a very large globe symbolizing earth and reinforcing the need to preserve and protect.
Greenpeace volunteers, dressed in white overalls and wearing a protective mask, interacted with citizens informing them about ways to protect themselves from rising levels of air pollution in the city. Through this activity, Greenpeace urged the people of Delhi to demand their right to timely information on quality of air they breathe and urge the government to deliver its commitment of clean air.
"The existing lack of information on air quality and precautionary measures may put hundreds of people's health including children and elderly at risk. People do not feel threatened by air pollution because they cannot feel the immediate health impacts. Government has good intentions behind setting up the National Air Quality monitoring index, but the process is incomplete till people are aware and are ensuring precautionary measures like wearing masks on heavy pollution day," said Ruth D'Costa, Public Engagement Campaigner, Greenpeace India.
Although Delhi has become the face of air pollution, the problem exists across the country. A recent status check on NAQI1 implementation by Greenpeace found discrepancies in the investment in infrastructure. Only Delhi has 10 continuous monitoring stations; Chennai, Bangalore and Lucknow have three stations each; Hyderabad has two; and the 11 other cities covered by the NAQI have only one station each capable of making NAQI data available online.
Additionally, even in Delhi, the NAQI data is rendered meaningless, as the current information dissemination system is unreliable, no agreed steps to be taken by local authorities on days with heavy pollution, and no plan for how the data can be used to inform citizens' fight against pollution. The initiative is incomplete if it is not action oriented.
"With winter just round the corner the problem of air pollution is likely to get severe, people already don't have access to information and unfortunately the existing tools like the National Air Quality Index is limited in its scope as it not only lacks transparency but it is not designed to make Air Quality data useful to citizens", says Sunil Dahiya, Campaigner, Greenpeace India.
"Delhi Government's announcement to observe the First Car Free Day in Delhi is a good initiative especially as its first such initiative by the government involving people's participation to create awareness, but firstly it is very small and limited action and importantly before taking further step, it is very crucial to bring an immediate correction in the NAQI so that it can deliver meaningful information about precautionary measures that people can take and through this event we tried to make people aware of their right to information, right to life and right to clean air," added Dahiya.
Greenpeace India, believes in people's right and each citizen has right to life, through Clean Air Nation and the activity, it intends to be working with people towards strengthening the right to information and right to clean air and calls on government to deliver its commitment of "Clean Air My Birth Right".