Parisar writes to the Commissioner demanding immediate formation of a Clean Air Committee

Civil society organisations and citizens urge Municipal Commissioner to set up “Clean Air Committee”for Pune
Emphasize importance of maintaining good air quality in COVID-19 situation

CSOs and citizens concerned about air quality have appealed to the Municipal Commissioner to set up a Clean Air Committee for Pune which is mandated under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). The NCAP, launched in January 2019, requires review committees to be set-up at the State and city levels.
Ranjit Gadgil, Program Director Parisar, said that cities like Nagpur and Nashik have already set up these committees and convened meetings under them. “It is high time that Pune forms this committee and effective measures are taken through it. The Committee should comprise of various stakeholders like the PMC, State Pollution Control Board, doctors, air quality experts, Traffic department, RTO, and civil society organisations. With constructive inputs from members with varied experiences and insights, we should be able to chalk out a long-term plan for the city which will enable good quality monitoring as well as communication strategy for the public at large."

Senior Pulmonologist, Dr Sundeep Salvi pointed out that a couple of studies conducted abroad show a relation between increase in air pollution to a higher mortality rate in COVID-19 patients. “Air pollution has immense health impacts, and children and senior citizens are more vulnerable to it. Along with a host of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, air pollution impacts the kidney, liver, andeven mental health in people. We cannot overstate the importance of a committee of which experts, doctors and citizens are a part of, as everyone will bring in their knowledge,” he said.

Sharmila Deo, AQ Coordinator at Parisar observed that after the lockdown was declared there was a substantial reduction in the PM2.5 and PM10 levels in most of the cities across India. In Pune, PM2.5 dropped 32%,PM10by 31%,and NOx by 63%. “This can clearly be attributed to reduction of vehicles on the road, stopping of construction activity, and minimal open burning. But the city needs to be able to calculate emissions from each of the major sources. While Pune already has 10 air quality monitors set-up by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) , 4 by the PCBs, and 50 low-cost monitors installed by the Smart City Corporation, there is no common platform where this data is integrated so thatthe city can take informed decisionsthat will reduce air pollution. Forecasts can also help citizens take precautions when air quality is predicted to worsen, and the city can take short-term actions to mitigate pollution in such an event,” she said.
The letter to the Commissioner was signed by 24 prominent activists, experts, and environmentalists from the city.