Clean Air Nation: Action at Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Delhi, India

Over one hundred thousand concerned citizens have signed the Greenpeace petition for a ‘Clean Air Nation’ that was delivered to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFcc). A group of volunteers and environmental activists, some of them dressed in oversized lung-shaped costumes to visually represent the impacts of worsening air pollution, brought the petition to Environment Minister Mr Anil Madhav Dave, and handed it over to Mr Arun Kumar Mehta, who is the Joint Secretary at MOEF&CC. Campaigners from groups including Greenpeace, Help Delhi Breathe and Care4Air called on Minister Dave to challenge all attempts at relaxing or diluting the Thermal Power Plants emission standards. “Mr Mehta further added that they were aware of the hazards air pollution causes on human health and he will make sure that the pollution doesn’t increase. We urged MOEF&CC and Mr Mehta to ensure that a monitoring mechanism for implementation of the emission standards is put in place, so that we don’t reach a situation in December where no power plant has complied to the notification,” said Sunil Dahiya, campaigner, Greenpeace India. The impacts of air pollution are far reaching and have devastating consequences, including rising economic and health costs. It is a national problem that is killing 1.2 million Indians every year and costing the economy an estimated 3% of GDP. Studies have linked PM exposure to health effects in both, the short and the long term, with a marked increase in pollution-linked ailments from redness in the eyes to lung cancer and heart attacks. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has, in its own reports, demonstrated the impact of Air pollution on Children in Delhi. Historically, coal has been a major source of pollution in air as well as water. Reliance on coal has led to loss of forests, wildlife and destroyed livelihoods of thousands of people. Research suggests that growth in coal is responsible for an estimated one lakh premature deaths in India.