15 January 2022
Clean Air Punjab- a citizen’s collective working on air pollution along with EcoSikh in collaboration with over fifty prominent citizen groups from across the state, has submitted a detailed set of recommendations to all political parties ahead of elections on February 14.
The collective held a town hall meeting in October last year. During this session, experts and civil society members brainstormed, discussed and finally developed a detailed set of recommendations to improve air quality throughout the state. These recommendations were turned into- people’s manifesto on how to tackle the air pollution problem in Punjab and have been recently submitted to all the political parties.
On behalf of Clean Air Punjab, Gurpreet Singh, Member of Punjab Development Forum and Director of United Sikhs submitted a dossier containing all the recommendations. The document has been submitted to Daljit Singh Cheema, SAD Spokesperson and Former Education Minister, Aman Arora, AAP MLA from Sunam, and Partap Singh Bajwa, Rajya Sabha MP and senior Congress leader.
“Punjab needs a strong leader who can implement structural reforms and revise policies to improve the air quality of all cities in the State. Our State wants its leaders to lead by example and present answers to the air pollution crisis, which impacts the health of people,” said Gurpreet Singh.
He added that our generation is being choked by air pollution, which has resulted in a high number of deaths. According to statistics, Punjab had 41,090 deaths in 2019, accounting for roughly 19% of the state’s total mortality.
Indu Aurora, Vice President, the Voice of Amritsar shared that this was for the first time that all political parties competing against each other were discussing air pollution at length.
“We will hold the new administration accountable for their promises,’’ she said adding that she herself is a witness to the deteriorating Air Quality in Punjab and its high time that those who get voted into power should take on the responsibility to ensure that the air we breathe is clean and proper checks are implemented to ensure a cleaner future for the next generation.
Clean Air Punjab- a citizen’s collective working on air pollution and EcoSikh have been conducting a series of convenings in different cities across Punjab and were successful in ensuring that 2021 was the first time in the State that air pollution was highlighted through different citizen campaigns across Punjab.
“Citizens of Punjab along with citizen groups, air quality experts as well as health practitioners have now been successful in building a momentum, which has now resulted in clean air and its impact on public health becoming a pressing issue for politicians who were earlier oblivious of the air pollution problem. We are now sure that they will not be able to ignore it any further,” said Anju Chabbra, board member of EcoSikh.
According to global estimates, air pollution is one of the most serious environmental issues confronting India today, and it is regarded as a major cause of countless deaths. Punjab has reason to be concerned: the National Clean Air Action Plan lists nine non-attainment or million-plus cities in the province (NCAP). A city that does not fulfil the Union Environment Ministry’s specified air quality requirements is known as a non-attainment city.
Citizens Recommendations during the Town Hall
- Every city in Punjab will adopt the best practices in solid waste management. Waste pickers will be equal stakeholders, waste management decentralised, and waste will be segregated and treated as wealth instead of being sent to landfills.
- All 9 non-attainment cities should have a minimum of 5 real-time stations covering the following type of land uses
- Residential, traffic, industrial, mixed-use/commercial and a background site about 200-300 m away from the city
- Further, villages close to the non-attainment cities should have at least two real-time monitoring stations each.
- Given the significant outside contribution in cities of Punjab, a state-level pollution control plan should be developed which the chief secy. of the state should oversee.
- Emissions data of all red category industries in the state should be made public.
- The state should look at providing financial aid to paddy growing farmers who are looking at sowing crops other than paddy. An existing state government scheme called the Pani Bachao Paisa Kamao incentivizes judicious use of water by farmers. This scheme could be extended to include farmers who replace water-guzzling paddy with other Kharif crops. The Haryana government has a similar scheme in place called the “Mera Pani Meri Virasat” scheme.
- Punjab is committed to a cleaner, greener and cheaper energy mix through an accelerated transition to renewable energy.
- Clean, modern and convenient public transport services will make sure our cities offer the highest quality of life.