N. Munal Meitei, Environmentalist
As we approach, the National Pollution Control Day, the significance of the day reflects on the impact of pollution on our health and planet. It reminds us to take responsibility to reduce pollution towards creating a cleaner and healthier environment.
This day is observed on 2nd December to give honour to the people who had lost their lives in Bhopal gas tragedy on December 2-3 in 1984. This tragedy, which wiped out a major part of the population and left many heavily suffering from various diseases remains one of the most disastrous industrial events of all time. The deteriorating soil and water qualities have been blamed for generations worth of birth defects after the tragedy. The day includes raising awareness, preventing industrial disasters from human negligence, the immediate need for effective control measures, protecting and preserving the environment and collectively working towards a more sustainable future.
Pollution is one of the most common things that are making this earth dirty day by day. Air pollution knows no boundaries and engulfs everywhere that comes in its way. It’s very dangerous and making pernicious effect on health of all living organisms. It’s now an incurable disease for the planet.
According to the National Health Portal of India, every year around 24 lakh people die due to air pollution, 14 lakh of whom die from indoor air pollution. This is to say that 1 out of every 8 deaths in the country is because of air pollution. The harmful gases in the air kill an average of 8.5 out of every 10,000 children in country before they turn 5 years old in which girls are more vulnerable (WHO-2018).
Pollution level for the country is so extreme that 9 out of 10 people does not have access to safe and pure air. Water and air, the two most essential resources of all living beings, have been so polluted by human activities. While pollution was supposed to reduce average life expectancy by 1.5 years, new reports have suggested that life expectancy will be reduced by more than 2 years now. Hence it is high time to spread awareness on pollution and its adverse effects on our health and mother nature.
According to Geneva Environment Network, air pollution violates the human rights for all living beings. Science shows there are numerous health and psychological problems from pollution whereas clean air helps to clear our lungs, gives us more energy and mental focus, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, helps us heal faster and even can improve our digestions. Plastic pollution is also degrading the soil, the skin of earth and killing marine lives incessantly.
A 2023 report from World Air Quality showed that out of the top 10 most polluted cities in the world, 3 are in India and Delhi being the second most polluted city in the world. Coals in power plant and industries are the largest contributors. Stubble burning in the states like Punjab and Haryana have shared the biggest challenge for the capital.
Air pollution has become one of the major causes of frequent hospital visits. Not only does it harm an individual’s health, but also damage the ozone layer and many other environmental deterioration. Now, India needs a network of air quality checking stations in every parts including the rural areas.
World today doesn’t need many reminders to realize the consequences of climate change. It is important to note that each individual has a huge role to fight against these changes. A clean environment cannot be achieved with the efforts of a selected few. Small acts such as planting trees, dumping garbage at the right place, recycling plastic items, etc, are the first steps for turning the planet into a sustainable place to live. The responsibility can not lie only on our governments; individuals and NGOs must also come forth to make every possible effort to reduce the environmental pollution.
While it may think, reducing pollution is an immense challenge for the world but remember that even your small steps can make a big difference. Just changing our habits like using public transports, turn off the lights when not in use, recycle and reuse, no to plastics, non smoking, less use of fans and air conditioner and to enhance afforestation. Even walking or biking for short distances can have a positive effect.
Another important step is to minimize waste. Opt for reusable items instead of single-use ones. Carry a reusable water bottle, bring your own shopping bags and use a refillable coffee cup. Separate your recyclables and compost your food waste whenever possible.
Finally, spread awareness about pollution control. Share educational resources on social media, organize discussions or workshops in your community or simply engage in conversations with family and friends about the importance of pollution reduction.
Remember, it’s the cumulative effect of these small changes that will create a big change in the long run. Thus, on approaching the National Pollution Control Day 2023, let’s commit ourselves for a cleaner and healthier country. Together, we can make a big difference. Only then we can sustain the essence of India.