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What Can We Do For A Pollution-Free Future?

Editor's note:This post is a part of #PollutionKeSolution, a contest launched by Youth Ki Awaaz on World Environment Day to find innovative and unique solutions to curb air pollution. 10 entries for the contest were shortlisted basis the number of views and upvotes they received, and 3 winners were selected by an expert panel! Check out the entries here!

There is an assumption that there is nothing one can do as an individual to curb the giant problem of air pollution. But that is not the case. Everyone can put in some effort towards the cause!

What Causes Air Pollution?

I am of the opinion that the common man assumes air pollution is only caused by industries and vehicles which emit huge clouds of smoke. I do not think that this is the only contributing factor.

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In South India, across Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Karnataka, the festival of ‘Bhogi‘ is celebrated by burning old unwanted material, as a part of Sankranthi generally in the second week of January. Similarly, Lohri, celebrated across Punjab, also witnesses a tradition of burning logs. Such traditions, without people’s knowledge, create a lot of pollution.

In mud roads which have not been properly maintained, then the dust that gets agitated due to the movement of vehicles is also very dangerous. Everyone in the urban areas for sure will use refrigerators or an air-conditioner which release chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere, which is very harmful.

In India, almost 60% of the electricity generated is from coal-fired plants which cause a lot of air pollution in the process of generating electricity. Deforestation also contributes to air pollution as generally, the tree roots hold the soil together. So, all of us knowingly or unknowingly is contributing to increasing the levels of air pollution.

What Can We And The Government Do?

The change should start with one person. One must ensure that plants are planted in the surrounding areas of one’s locality. One should ensure that a fertile layer of soil is put over the existing open lands and pebbles are put on that around plants/trees. This will ensure that the dust particles are not blown by the wind or by any other forces.

Through tree-plantation drives and covering the open portion of the land with fertile soil and pebbles, the government can ensure that there is no dust coming to the streets. Also, the government can use machines such as vacuum cleaners to clean the roads to make sure that dust particles don’t float about. Water should be sprinkled on the play-grounds and areas where a lot of activities take place to reduce the amount of dust being generated. Governments should also promote innovative startups, like Graviky Labs, which work towards reducing air pollution.

The government must install a robust system wherein the quality of air is being shown at the main junctions and places, along with measures to be taken to reduce the air pollution which brings awareness among everyone. I feel that as electric vehicles are being manufactured with high technology, the government to the maximum possible extent should stop the manufacturing of diesel or petrol or vehicles run using non-renewable sources of fuel and allow only the manufacturing of electric vehicles. If this is not totally possible, at least such measures can be taken in the case of public transport. The government should use renewable sources of energy in all public buildings and amenities to the maximum extent possible and promote the use of such renewable sources of energy.

What Are The Policy Changes That Can Be Taken Up By The Government?

I am of the opinion that the government should introduce stringent policy changes that will help curb air pollution. The policies should cover the implementation of the usage only of e-vehicles/renewable source of energy for public transport system, instituting a national air quality programme to be spread to all cities and villages, preparation & enforcement of strict environment laws with regard to industries, a special statutory board to address the issues pertaining to air pollution.

Policies can also extend to make sure that any vehicle past its prime should be recycled, and make sure that the next vehicle the person buys should be a vehicle which uses a renewable source of energy. Approvals for plans of houses to be built should be given only after factoring in how ‘green’ they will be. I feel that yearly plans should be formulated to reduce air pollution and to continuously observe the trend of air pollution.

What Can We Do As Individuals?

It is crucial that we practice the ‘4 R formula’, i.e. ‘Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.’ Everyone should use at least one machine related to a renewable source, for example, a solar water heater, and turn off the electric appliances when not in use. We must take the initiative to plant more trees. Do not burn anything, instead try to recycle/up-cycle.

We should do away with crackers, or at least burn crackers that aren’t very polluting in nature. We must try our best to choose renewable energy products as they are energy and cost-efficient most of the times when seen in the long run.

I strongly feel that it is in our hands to put in some effort and to do our best to contribute to better air quality in our localities along with the support provided by the government. Our life is precious and needs to be saved. Already, we are suffering from various diseases that don’t have any treatments, so why bring in new diseases? Prevention is better than cure. So people, come on! It is high time to act on air pollution and to save our lives.

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