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Air Quality In Delhi Deteriorates, Hitting ‘Very Poor’ Category

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For the last two weeks, the air quality in Delhi and northern cities has rapidly deteriorated with the rise of pollutants due to low wind speeds. On Friday, the overall Air Quality in Delhi reached to ‘very poor’ category.

According to Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) data, on Friday morning Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 387 in Anand Vihar, 333 in RK Puram, 391 in Rohini, and 390 in Dwarka hitting the ‘very poor category’.

Meanwhile, in Delhi-NCR the AQI was 365 at 8 a.m. on Friday and the values for Gurugram and Noida were 318 and 386 respectively, all three hitting the “red” category. It can cause “respiratory illness on prolonged exposure”, as per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.

An AQI is studied as- between 0 and 50 is acknowledged as “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.

Representational image.

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) stated that the most dominant factor for deterioration is the extremely calm surface wind in Delhi, combined with low inversion height accompanied by moderate stubble related intrusion.

Environment Minister Gopal Rai showcased his party’s attempts to reduce air pollution in Delhi after the inauguration of the “Red Light On, Gaadi Off” campaign under “Yuddh Pradushan Ke Viruddh”.

“Cars being switched off at red traffic lights can reduce vehicular pollution by 15-20%. Our government will work to curb internal pollution sources but for external sources like increasing stubble burning, we’re requesting Centre and neighbouring states to help,” Rai said.

“From October 26, we are starting a big campaign in 70 constituencies of Delhi where awareness drives will be launched to raise awareness regarding air pollution and its solutions for the citizens of Delhi. We will put all our efforts to control internal pollution. I request everyone to collectively participate in our campaign to reduce air pollution and make the environment safe for everyone,” the minister added.

Earlier in October when air quality reached very poor for the first time then Union Environment Minister Prakash Javedkar denied stubble burning as a cause of air pollution and said that the contribution of it was only 4% that day.

“This is a usual phenomenon for October-November, which is when air quality deteriorates. Some improvement is likely around October 26 when wind speed may pick up,” Hindustan Times quoted a senior IMD scientist.

Every year in the month of October India, especially the northern states, see deterioration in air quality. The month usually marks the withdrawal of monsoons in Northwest India. During monsoons, the prevalent direction of the wind is easterly. These winds, which travel from over the Bay of Bengal, carry moisture and return rains to this part of the country. Once the monsoon departs, the predominant direction of winds changes to northwesterly.

High-speed winds are very efficient at disbanding pollutants, but winters bring a dip in wind speed overall as compared to summers. The compound of these meteorological factors makes the region prone to pollution. When constituents such as farm fires and dust blows are added to the already high base pollution levels in the city, air quality dips further.

During the lockdown, the pollution level in cities across the country drastically slowed down just within a few days. Amongst these cities, Delhi also saw the cleanest air since comprehensive records have been kept since 2015.

However, now, several factors might even worse the air quality such as temperature dipping, farmers burning crop to clear the fields, low wind speed, vehicular and industrial pollution, festive fireworks as Diwali is also around the corner. They might contribute to what doctors say a “deadly cocktail of poisonous gases”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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