Air pollution is one of the biggest forms of pollution and contributing factors to the global emergency of climate change. While most people are aware of the air pollution in the northern parts of the country, including regions of New Delhi, NCR, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh among others. In an attempt to fight this, the Government of India launched the National Clean Air Action Programme (NCAP), on 10 January 2019 under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The goal of the NCAP is to reduce pollution by about 20-30% of what it was in the year 2017, by the year 2024.

Irrespective of the effectiveness and importance of such a programme being introduced in the country, it is important to note that there have been over 100 polluted cities left out of this programme, and one of these cities is the growing metropolitan, Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, India. There have been many reports on the deteriorating quality of air in the city, over the course of this year. In accordance to the AQI, 0-50 indicates good air quality, 51-100 indicates satisfactory, 101-200 for moderate, 201-300 for poor, 301- 400 for very poor and 401-500 for severe respectively. In the past month, on November 4 2019 and November 8 2019 the Air Quality Index of the city went up to greater than 300, thus bringing it under the “red-zone”. However, the government has been claiming this to be an effect of the cyclone bulbul and faulty meters in CPCB monitoring stations in the city.

The officials responsible to maintain checks and balances have said, over time that the transport department has been informed to make emission tests, apart from which meetings have also been set up to discuss the same. However, what is alarming and must be drawn attention to, is the fact that Chennai has not yet been ingrained into the NCAP, even after so many signals have been given out about the situation of air pollution in the city. It is thus, the need of the hour to fight for justice, and for #cleanair, as this is my country, and we deserve #myrighttobreathe.

( Sahinya Sundaresan is a volunteer with Greenpeace India. She is an aspiring media professional and student at Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication, Pune.)

To support us at Greenpeace India to fight for this cause, sign this petition, and help us bring to the attention of the authorities, the #airpollutionemergency in Chennai.