Ludhiana (Punjab) [India], June 5 (ANI): More than 8,000 school students from different parts of Punjab, including Ludhiana, wrote to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on World Environment Day on Saturday urging him to take action for controlling air pollution.
The demands from students predominantly echoed their right to clean air and the right to breathe. At the same time, it highlighted the fact that Punjab has some of the most polluted cities in India, namely Ludhiana, Khanna, Mandi Gobindgarh, Amritsar, Jalandhar, and Patiala.
Jaskiran Kaur, the Principal of Amrit Indo-Canadian Academy said, "The quality of the air we breathe has deteriorated. Through this initiative, the students who believed that the air quality in Punjab is not as bad as in Delhi were sensitized about the reality. It was an awakening for the students that the day is not far when we may all have to struggle to breathe in the natural clean air, and might even have to carry our personal oxygen cylinders. The very thought is worrying for us all".
The average air quality index (AQI) in Ludhiana was noted to be 135 during the Covid-induced lockdown under the second wave. Whereas, good AQI lies between 0-50, and moderate between 51-100.
Fazilka and Rupnagar, the greener regions of Punjab, have also noted an average AQI of 113 and 129, respectively.
This alarming data puts focus on the immediate need for an intervention and on promoting actions to reduce the prevalent severe air pollution.
Amarjit Singh, grandfather of a 12-year-old from Ludhiana said, "Most of us feel sad that we cannot allow our grandchildren to go out and play due to the present Covid-19 situation. But we also need to think that if the air in our state keeps getting toxic due to air pollution, we will always be worried and will be forced to keep them indoors with air purifiers. It's a good move by students to understand the value of clean air and demand their right to breathe clean and healthy air."
The initiative of creating awareness amongst students on Air Pollution was carried out under the Clean Air Punjab project by EcoSikh.
"In line with its restoration and conservation activities, Ecosikh, along with Clean Air Punjab, wanted to grab the attention of the Government through the voices of children to safeguard their future by taking strong measures and securing their health and wellbeing", said Supreet Kaur, President EcoSikh India.
"Thousands of children have written to the Honorable CM, Capt. Amarinder Singh, expressing their concern about the air pollution in Punjab and the respiratory problems associated with it. The students have shown strong will and determination for their safe future," she added.
Kaur also said that on behalf of the eight thousand concerned children, they urge the State Government to come up with an action plan to tackle all sources of pollution in a time-bound manner, thereby ensuring that Punjab breathes freely.
Dr Prabhjyot Kaur Sidhu, HOD, Climate Change, and Agricultural Meteorology, PAU said, "Even during the month of May 2021 the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Punjab was 113, which is not in a good or satisfactory category and is unhealthy for sensitive groups, although it is the cleanest time of the year when there is no residue burning".
Moreover, due to lockdown conditions, vehicular traffic is also at its lowest level. The industrial pollution is minimal, she added.
Gurpreet Kaur Chandok, Principal, Millennium World School said: "The quality of the air we breathe in nowadays is deteriorating with every passing day because modernization has made us compromise on so many things. We really need to be serious about it and think of the ways we are in our comfort zones. We devise ways to improve the air quality. We are the ones living on this land of Punjab and we only have to take some committed, defined steps towards 'Pollution Free Punjab 'and become pioneers in this field too, like the way we are in many other fields." (ANI)