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A Solution To Delhi’s Pollution Problem Is Staring At Us In The Face: CNG.

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If I ask you the question, which is the quickest mode of transport among the following:

a) air b) land c) water?

I guess, without any delay your answer comes out to be air, and yes, you are correct.

Air is the quickest mode of transport today both for humans and pollutants. As by the means of air communication, we have the convenience to cover longer distances in a shorter time, so does the pollutant.

Air is the quickest medium through which the pollutants can find their way to reach deep inside our body and that is why air pollution is said to be the most dangerous and harmful kind of pollution affecting the lives of living creatures.

Air pollution is not a new fish in the pond of environmental pollution and it is also not that the government has not taken the possible steps to deal with this problem.

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed by the government late in the year 1981 to prevent, control and abate the air pollution but still we are struggling to fight this silent killer.

Today, we have many sophisticated instruments to monitor air pollution, but unfortunately, a less number of effective techniques to control and abate this problem. Whenever we talk about the culprits behind this problem, only two pictures came into our mind:

1. Smoke coming out from the chimney of an industrial plant, and
2. Emissions taking place from tailpipes in automobiles.

These days, one might also think of stubble burning.

A CNG filling station in Delhi. (Photo: Subhashish Panigrahi/Wikimedia Commons)

According to WHO, “Automobiles contribute to about 12-70% particulate pollution in the total pollution mix, it also highlighted that middle-income countries (like India) suffer disproportionately from the automobile pollution.”

So What To Do?

What is the solution to this problem of pollution?

Today, there are two feasible solutions to control the emission from the tailpipe of automobiles:

1. To modify the engine design of the vehicle, and
2. To improve the quality of fuel.

So, which is the way we have to go?

Today, India is walking on both paths to meet with the BS-VI emission standards by April 2020. Modification petrol or diesel engine or improving the quality of petrol or diesel, both are feasible but are complex and expensive solutions.

Newly modified fuel engines will increase the cost of automobiles and the ultra refined petrol and diesel will affect the cost of fuel, which at the end has to borne by vehicle users. So, do we not have any eco-friendly and economical solutions to control vehicular emissions?

And my answer is no. We have one elephant inside the room and that is Compressed Natural Gas.

CSE Director Sunita Narain says, “Don’t try to incrementally change the quality of fuel because you will always stay behind the problem, change your fuel itself with the cleaner fuel.”

CNG is a cleaner and cheaper fuel in comparison to the polluting fuels like diesel and petrol. Also retro-fitting the CNG kit in the ‘in-use’ vehicle is comparatively easier and cheaper than the modified of petrol and diesel engines.

The most critical pollutants present in the atmosphere nowadays are PM, Nox, and Sox, which you may also have noticed on the LED screen while walking across metro stations.

Now the next question comes to your mind may be, is CNG capable of reducing the level of emissions of these pollutants from automobiles?

According to a World Bank report, “CNG driven buses produce 97% less particulate matter in comparison to the buses driven by Diesel.” Also, Nox emissions from the tailpipe of CNG vehicles is almost half than that from petrol vehicles.

This verifies the ability of CNG to control poisonous emissions from vehicles. Today, we have become so busy in finding a variety of solutions for this problem of pollution that we forget to effectively implement the solutions which we already have.

Sunita Narain once said, “Often we get so lost in the problem that we lose our ability to propose what should be done and the solution is right there.” The same is happening with CNG today. The whole world has gotten lost in making biodiesel and electric cars and forgotten about the currently available solution: CNG.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: jenspie2/Flickr.
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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.

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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.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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