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Will The National Clean Air Campaign Really Help In Combating Pollution?

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Air pollution is a known phenomenon in India and if you stay in the National Capital Region then you consider air pollution as not only a phenomenon but also a season. So for Delhiites, pollution is like a season which starts around the Diwali festival and then stays till the winter ends. Smog covers the whole city, people wear masks, newspapers carry bold headlines and authorities blame either each other or poor farmers or come up with random plans.

I know it sounds ridiculous but it is true. So, the Union Government of India has come up with a program called National Clean Air Campaign or NCAP. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has come out with the concept of this program on April 17.

The focus of this plan is to maintain the average ambient air quality throughout the year all over the country. A number of authorities who cannot maintain a moderate air quality in the Capital have come up with a nationwide plan, that’s really interesting, isn’t it.

Let me tell you the how many authorities are working to combat the air pollution only in Delhi. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) it is a Supreme Court authorized body, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Delhi Government and National Green Tribunal (it handles various cases on pollution).

So as all these authorities technically could not do much hence the Union Government has come up with NCAP. However, among all these authorities the EPCA is the prime body with some wonderful minds who have really worked hard to come out with a plan named Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). This is the one and only competent plan and all the other authorities more or less follow this.

So now the question arises that will the NCAP really help to combat the air pollution of India? The experts and the environmental scientists have found that it is just a “paper tiger” and nothing else. The Clean Air Collective, people from various NGOs and environmentalists have submitted their recommendations to the government. If we follow the recommendations we will understand that without these steps there is no way NCAP can work.

1) Emission Targets

The union government should incorporate 35% reduction in three years and 50% reduction in five years as targets to make NCAP effective and impactful.

2) Sectoral Targets

Draft NCAP has ignored polluting sectors like industry and coal thermal power plants, which are regulated by the central government. Highly polluting industries and industrial clusters should be regulated under NCAP with clear timelines and targets for implementation.

3) Interim Milestones

Milestones are crucial for evaluating NCAP and the same interim milestones should also be extended to sectors like industry and power plants.

4) Stubble Management

NCAP must have a holistic approach to tackle the issue of stubble management. Currently, the approach is isolated. Both “in-situ crop residue management” and creation of infrastructure and market for the use and management of stubble outside of the field (“ex-situ” management) should be incorporated in NCAP.

5) Strengthening Non-Motorised Transport

“Road Widening and supporting development of such infrastructure (flyovers) within cities” as suggested under the letters issued to SPCBs/PCCs in 2015 and 2016 are likely to result in an increase in emissions, as they promote private ownership and use of vehicles. To decongest the traffic, more emphasis must be given on promoting/strengthening the Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) and public transportation, which are long-term sustainable solutions also highlighted under NUTP (National Urban Transport Policy).

6) Waste Management

A comprehensive urban waste minimisation and segregation policy should be integrated with NCAP to control air pollution. Define the process of selection of non-attainment cities – there needs to be a second look at the process of selection of non-attainment cities as draft NCAP misses out on including highly polluted cities like Gurgaon, Faridabad, Bulandshahar, Muzzafarnagar, Patna, Gaya and Muzaffarpur etc.

Beyond 100 non-attainment cities – the coverage of NCAP should not just be limited to the list of 100 cities as mentioned in the concept note and should be extended to other polluted geographies as well.

7) Statutory Act

The NCAP must be linked to some statutory Act, like Air Act, 1981 – to make it enforceable so that if the public wants to address the fact that NCAP has not been implemented, they can approach the court.

8) Language Barrier

The draft NCAP is only in one language (English) which does not allow the impacted population to be part of the process for even commenting on the draft, it should have been made available in other regional languages as well at-least in those languages, which are widely spoken by the community most impacted by hazardous pollution levels. Hence, NCAP should be translated into regional languages and extend the deadline for public consultation by at least one more month.

Commenting on the plan, Sunil Dahiya, Campaigner, Greenpeace India said, “The first and foremost priority for the ministry should be to set time-bound emission targets to reduce air pollution. NCAP is the ultimate framework to ensure compliance with their commitment towards tackling air pollution from the source. Missing of emission as well as sectoral targets is making NCAP not only redundant but pointless.”

Some of the experts have also noted that there is a double standard of the government in this whole program.

Talking about the government’s double standards on emission norms for thermal power plants, Ritwick Dutta, of LlFE said: “On one hand Government is launching the NCAP. On the other hand, it continues to kill its own air pollution norms. Emissions from power plants are a significant contributor to air pollution. The government is killing the 2015 emission standards for coal-based power plants. NCAP only speaks high words. It neither has any clear strategy nor targets even when pollution is reaching toxic levels across India. The plan is too techno-centric without any target and without any detail on action against violations.”

With all these points it is much clear that NCAP is a plan without a vision and it can neither change the pollution condition of the Capital nor of India.

The Greenpeace India has also come up with a five-minute explainer of NCAP, let’s have a look.

NCAP in 5 Minutes

Urgent action needed: act.gp/2IiYyIeLAST 2 DAYS left to send an email to the Environment Ministry asking for a stronger action plan for #CleanAir: act.gp/2IiYyIe#MyRightToBreathe #IndiaCleanAirPlan

Posted by Greenpeace India on Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Let’s have a look.

 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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