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An Initiative by The Times Of India

About Us

“Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, the top 14 are in India” states the WHO report. With the increasing air pollution, Indians are battling respiratory problems, foetal deaths, passive smoking and fighting for survival. Along with the already running Let Delhi Breathe campaign, The Times of India is back with a wider approach towards ways to combat Air Pollution. Let Our City Breathe aims to work at a micro level, to bring a true and lasting change. Let’s all pledge to fight for clean air and let our cities breathe!

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The Times Impact

In 2014, after a WHO report showed Delhi’s air to be the most polluted in the world, The Times of India launched Let Delhi Breathe – an initiative aimed at creating awareness around Delhi’s air pollution issue and getting authorities to take relevant action to improve the air quality. The initiative was highly successful in the first year itself as it caught the attention of both citizens and the relevant authorities who in turn acted upon the recommendations proposed by TOI.

The campaign also found mention in international media as a pioneering initiative in this space.

Soon after finding multiple mentions in the print media, the campaign made a huge impact after serious actions were taken by the concerned authorities including:

  • Euro 4 diesel norms were rolled out across India on April 1, 2015, 2 years. This was ahead of schedule.
  • Rolling out of Euro 6 norms for fuel and vehicles was advanced to 2020, 4 years ahead of schedule.
  • NGT imposed an entry cess on every truck entering Delhi, leading to reduction in trucks entry into Delhi by 70%.
  • NGT imposed a fine/jail term on public burning of leaves/garbage.

However, the problem of air pollution is not restricted just to Delhi but is a nationwide phenomenon, taking point in multiple other metropolitan cities including Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore. With poor air quality becoming a gnawing concern across the country, TOI now plans to scale up Let Delhi Breathe with a focus on the issue of paddy husk burning as well as expand this initiative to other parts of the country before it’s too late, under the name Let Our City Breathe.

But the
problem continues

In today’s time, there isn’t one single person who hasn’t witnessed the effects of the decreasing air quality. Poor quality air has hazardous consequences. This issue which was pertaining mostly to Delhi NCR and adjoining cities has now also spread to other parts of the country.

Fine Particulate Matter, PM 2.5 which is an air pollutant two and a half microns or less in width is one of the major contributors to the poor air quality. Particles of this size can easily travel deep into the respiratory system, causing shortness of breath; irritation in lungs, throat, eye and nose; coughing; sneezing and runny nose.

Our cities are becoming gas chambers, with increasing vehicular pollution, industrial emissions, combustion of fossil fuels, burning garbage, stubble burning, etc.

With festivals and Diwali around the corner burning of crackers worsens the air quality making it even worse for people. The after-effects last for days.

Indoor pollution has also been increasing due to the fumes from cooking oil, the gas stove, incense and mosquito repellents. The unfortunate scenario is that air purifiers are at an extremely hiked price, for a middle class or underprivileged family it becomes an expensive added expenditure.

Major Causes of Air Pollution

Almost every activity we indulge in, leads to some kind of damage to the environment. Industrial waste, vehicular pollution, domestic smoke, cigarette smoking, outdoor fires, improper ventilation, incineration of waste are some of the major ways our daily activities contribute towards the horrendous issue.

How it is Affecting Us

People are adversely affected due to the deteriorating quality of air in the country. The effect of pollution is most harmful for the elderly, young children, and especially more for the child in the mother’s womb. More and more people are prone to lung infections, persistent cough, inflammations of the skin, the risk and statistic of heart attacks increases manifold.

Ambient air pollution shortens an average Indian’s life by over 1.5 years. Studies have revealed that air pollution, even at levels considered safe, caused one in seven new cases of contributes to diabetes with over 3.2 Million new diabetes cases globally in 2016. 

A 4-year long longitudinal study by the International Food Policy Research Institute has, for the first time, found that exposure to air pollution over a significant period of time impacts cognitive abilities, and leads to steep reduction in verbal and math tests scores.

It is not only the outdoor pollution, in fact indoor pollution is equally dangerous. The WHO states that out of the seven million annual deaths caused by air pollution, about 3.8 million are caused by household/indoor pollution.

1.5 Years
Reduction in average Indian’s life due to ambient air pollution
3.8 Million
Deaths caused annually due to household/indoor pollution, of the total 7M deaths due to air pollution (States WHO)
Exposure to air pollution over a significant period of time impacts cognitive abilities, and leads to steep reduction in verbal and math tests scores
3.2 Million
New diabetes cases due to air pollution globally in 2016
Let ‘s Take a Pledge To Fight Against Air Pollution
I pledge to support the cause to clean up the air in my city
India Pledges

प्रदूषर दूर करा जा सकता है परंतु सरकार साथ नही देती। प्रदूषर फैलाने वाली इक्कियों से महीने दारी लेते है और घर घर में प्रदूषर फैलाने वाली फैक्टरियां लगी है बिना लाइसेंस वाली पर कोई एक्शन नही लेता। 15 साल से पुराने वाहन धुंआ उड़ाते घूम रहे है पर कोई कार्यवाही नही होती है। मेरे पास एक ऐसा आईडिया है जिससे प्रदूषर खत्म हो सकता है।

- Vinod Kumar Agarwal
Let's Fight Air Pollution
Here's How You Can Contribute
Reducing vehicular pollution
  • As far as possible use public forms of transport, especially when travelling alone.
  • Opt for a car pool as often as possible and encourage your friends and family too.
  • Get your vehicle’s pollution check done regularly.
Waste Disposal
  • Do not burn waste in open.
  • Ensure waste is properly disposed by using local garbage and recycling services.
  • Report if someone is burning waste in open, through TOI’s Citizen Reporter app.
Reduce pollution caused by dust particles
  • Discourage sweeping of dusty roads in your colonies/area (especially during peak pollution season)
  • Sprinkle water on area surrounding your house.
  • Ensure all construction sites are covered and report uncovered ones through TOI’s Citizen Reporter app.
Reduce indoor pollution
  • Install powerful exhaust fans/chimneys in the kitchen.
  • Add indoor plants like English ivy, spider plant, peace lily to act as natural air purifiers.
  • Avoid lighting incense sticks in your house.
Say no to crackers
  • Do not burn crackers this Diwali.
  • Encourage others as well to take a pledge to celebrate a cracker-free Diwali.
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