Take a deep breath.
Can you smell it? It’s the scent of death.
Until a few months ago
Even I didn’t know
That the sky was so grey,
That the 13000 litres of air I was breathing every day
Was so poisonous, so polluted
And that this particulate matter was rooted
In my lungs, seeping into my blood stream
When I found out- I wanted to scream.
Because all those frequent headaches I got
Was because of the air which left me so distraught.
Lung cancer, stunted organ development, respiratory diseases
All because we drive our Mercedes’??
Yes, you heard that right.
Cars cause 60% of the pollution - just because our sight
Is not designed to see these invisible particles
Doesn’t mean we should ignore those articles
In the newspapers- which talk about how
Every day in the city that seems so pretty- is somehow
Bringing us closer to bad days.
But this is OUR city. We’re not going to run.
Instead of feeling sorry and scared for our sons
and daughters and mother and fathers,
We can find a solution
For this terrible terrible air pollution.
Trust me its possible - but only if we work together.
Seeing everyone gathered here, despite the cold weather
Is a step itself, to make a change.
It gives me hope, that someone, somewhere wanted to arrange
An event like this.
Good morning everyone, my name is Naina Durga. I am a 16 year old girl who has decided to take
ownership of the air I breathe. I’ve already talked about how poisonous the air is and how I’ve been
affected by it. It’s time now to talk about what we can actually do, so that my generation doesn’t suffer in the future.
There are 3 levels of these solutions;
1. At an individual level: the first thing we, as individuals can do is to inform ourselves. Delhi’s air
has started to gain recognition by the media- READ those articles, read blogs, listen to the radio,
watch the news. The more informed you are the more you can spread the word. Know what the
safe level is and what the actual pollution level is so you can plan your day ahead. If its red air
pollution day- try to stay indoors, go to the gym instead of the park. Did you know that between
12-4 the air outside is the best? The second thing to do is protect ourselves. Wear pollution masks which have a rating of N-95 or N-99 (They can be anywhere from 85 rupees to 4000 rupees)
Disposable surgeons masks DO NOT have any effect whatsoever in filtering pure air. Buying air purifiers, while they are expensive, will help in the long run. A less expensive way to reduce indoor air pollution is to use plants such as areca palm, spider plant, or snake plant.
2. At the communal level: attending protests and rallies – like this one - which push for sustainable
development or greener public transport can be beneficial for the environment. Apart from that, joining environmental NGO’s, signing petitions banning crop burning or even bringing up the topic of air pollution in daily conversations can be of help.
3. At the government level: push for policies which keep environmental sustainability in mind. India uses Euro III or Euro IV fuel, rather than the much greener Euro VI fuel (which is used in the U.S.) because it’s a much cheaper option. The odd even rule - which may not have been completely effective - was at least a sign that the government was finally giving air pollution some thought.
Some of you may be wondering what I’ve done to pursue clean air - recently, I thought of setting up a clean air club in my school to inform children my age that air pollution wasn’t just something we read about in our textbooks - it is actually a problem. I know I’m running short of time- so I’d like to end by saying that I am CONFIDENT that we can reduce the air pollution. It may be difficult, but its not impossible.
(Excerpt from Delhi teen Naina Lavakare's Slam Poetry performance and speech at the Help Delhi Breathe citizen rally held on January 17, 2016.)
Naina Durga is a New Delhi-based high schooler who has volunteered to support Care for Air's school programs. Her interest in clean air evangelism grew with each CFA presentation she attended, culminating in the initiation of a Clean Air Club in her own school. She is in the process of recruiting volunteers across senior grades for her Club so that together, they can create a cohort of student ambassadors who will educate younger children to form the next generation of pollution warriors.
Tell us your personal stories on how you battle air pollution in your daily life and in your community.