SwitchON Foundation observes the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies

Kolkata, 7th September, 2022: SwitchON Foundation on the occasion of international Day of Clean Air for blue skies today organized events with various schools in Bengal under the theme “The Air we Share”

As a part of the celebrations, 400 students from 10 reputed schools of West Bengal participated in a Human Chain depicting the Word – ‘Clean Air’.  The primary idea behind the programme was to showcase the demand for Cleaner Air and Action resulting in the formulation of new policies, modification of the existing one and implementation of laws to reduce the Air Pollution menace.

Women, Children and Elderly are the most vulnerable to air pollution. Therefore there is a need for more efforts and advance control measures towards driving changes on ground as current policies are not sufficient to substantially improve air quality in Kolkata and suburbs by 2030. Kolkata Metropolitan Area, comprises the old city and surrounding districts of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, and Nadia.(1886.67 square km) 

According to the recent State of Global Air report (SOGA), 2022, published by the US based Health Effects Institute (HEI), highlights two of the most harmful pollutants, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). 

The global report cited 20 cities, with 18 being in India – which reported a severe increase in PM2.5 from 2010 to 2019.  Kolkata ranked second in the list of the most polluted cities in the world. Besides, Kolkata also ranked eighth in the list of most populous cities with the highest PM2.5 related diseases, approximately on the number of deaths per 1 lakh population. It also underlined that exposure to PM 2.5 was responsible for 21,380 deaths in Kolkata in the year 2019.

As a part of the public art campaign, Bengal Clean Air Network (Bengal-CAN) members urged authorities to address the pressing issue of air pollution in the state by committing to reduce the air pollution by 30 percent by 2024. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had earlier launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to prepare clean air action plans with an objective to reduce PM2.5 pollution by 20–30% by 2024 as compared to 2017, in all non-attainment cities.

Speaking on the occasion, Vinay Jaju MD SwitchON Foundation said, “There is a growing consensus that sweeping lifestyle changes and bold policy transformations are required to realize action at scale. Coupled with the technological advancements, lifestyle changes and behavioural shifts can make clean air action more focussed and deliberated.”

“Exposure to various toxics results in respiratory problems, notably, the prevalence of dyspnoea (difficulty in breathing) and chronic cough has been found to be an increasing trend”.

Quotes of various schools:

1.      DAV: “There is an urgent need to raise awareness about the problem, impact and solutions for air pollution among students, who are the future generation, we have taken up the green cause to address the issue”.

2.      GPS Memorial School: “Our institution is committed to the cause of air pollution as children the most affected, through various activities we have been sensitizing the cause among students of our school”

3.      Chetla Boys: “Recently along with SwitchON Foundation we had been driving solution driven campaign like waste segregation among our students, through which they will act as agents of change in the society”

4.      Searsole Raj High School: “Through our School Eco Club we have taken up the task of educating our students on the importance of cleaner air and precautionary measures against air pollution”.

5.      Nistarini College: “ We are committed to the cause and organize air pollution based training for our students as a part of our college activities”

6.      Vivekananda College Thakurpukur: “Our students are highly motivated towards the cause of air pollution, we take up cleanliness drive across places in order to sensitize our students on the harmful effects of air pollution” 

7.      Vidyasagar Metropolitan College: “From Pollution toward Solution is the mantra we have been actively promoting within our college”

8.      CALCUTTA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: “With the support of SwitchON we have installed a few air quality monitoring devices across our campus, and we are happy that it is helping our students to raise awareness”.

9.      Ballygunge CU: “There is growing concern on the health effects and reducing life expectancy due to increasing air pollution in the city, as institute we promote greener campus to increase awareness”

10.  Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Vidyaniketan: “ We encourage cycling and greener lifestyle for everyone within our campus, we also want to take up many other activities to address the issue throughout the year”.

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