Chandigarh, Oct 28 (IANS) In the lead up to the Assembly polls in Punjab, experts and civil society members on Thursday discussed and developed a detailed set of recommendations to improve air quality across the state here.
The recommendations will now be included in the people's manifesto to tackle air pollution and will be soon submitted to all political parties.
Organised by EcoSikh and Clean Air Punjab, a citizen's collective working on the issue of air pollution, over 50 prominent citizens across the state attended the meeting.
Citizens' demands focused on their right to clean air and the ability to breathe, highlighting the fact that Punjab is home to some of India's most polluted cities, including Mandi Gobindgarh, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Khanna, and Patiala.
Speaking about how citizen groups have elevated the dialogue on air pollution and made it an election issue for the upcoming legislative elections, Supreet Kaur, President of EcoSikh, said, "The year is the first time that air pollution has been highlighted in citizen campaigns across Punjab. The momentum built by citizen groups, health practitioners and experts has taken years to reach its current scale,"
She said residents of the state are up in arms seeing the toxic air not only impacting them but also their children.
Kaur said the people will vote for their right to clean air this election and no matter who gets elected, they will hold their leaders responsible to lead and bring about the necessary changes to safeguard the health of people from air pollution.
One of the key recommendations that was unanimously agreed was increasing the air quality monitoring network in the state.
Punjab has a total of nine non-attainment or million-plus cities under the National Clean Air Action Plan (NCAP) and everyone in the deliberation agreed that each non-attainment city should have a minimum of five real-time air quality monitoring stations covering the diverse type of land uses, which included residential, traffic, industrial, mixed-use or commercial areas.
Further, villages close to the non-attainment cities should have at least two real-time monitoring stations each.
Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental challenges India is facing today.