Joining the global climate strike, hundreds of youngsters, school students, along with their teachers and parents, social activists from various organisations gathered for a peaceful demonstration to highlight the crisis of rising air pollution and spread awareness among masses.
The youngsters carrying banners like ‘Help me, I can’t breathe’ raised slogans; Punjab di raza, saaf hava saaf hava! and dhooyen te layiye sensor ji, jarron mukayie cancer ji…
The climate meet was organized by EcoSikh organisation under its ‘Breathing Punjab’ campaign to support a 16 years old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, who initiated a world-wide school children led global moment for climate action this week.
So far in this week 4 million students from 185 countries took to the streets and demanded clean air and to put a stop to coal based business and demand that fossil fuels stay in the ground.
EcoSikh highly appreciated the presence of schools and NGOs on this common cause. Amongst the schools; Kalgidhar Sn. Sec. School, Sargodha School, BCM, Delhi Public School, Doraha Public School, Doraha College of Education, Ryan International, GNE, Aurobindo College and amongst the organisations; RBS Roots, Helping Hands, Ahsas NGO, Sambhav, Gadri Shaheed Baba Lal Singh Committee, EkNoor and Kiddie Sangat were present.
Sarpreet Kaur, EcoSikh Breathing Punjab Campaign Manager said that, “The disaster is approaching fast and our action is too slow. We have only 9 years to protect the global rise of 0.5 degrees till we reach the point of no return if we continue to exploit the earth in the current way.
Punjab air quality is already touching the severe 500 index every year, the govt. figures say 34,430 deaths due to cancer in the last five years and we are still constructing hospitals but not curbing the cause of these deaths.”
“Why do we have to get married and give birth to children when we know that they are going to live in a gas chamber?”, added Sarpreet Kaur.
Rattandeep 20, from Aurobindo College expressed, “Greta Thunberg is an eye opener for all of us. Saving the planet is now my personal concern for my future. I need a better forest cover in Punjab for my survival. I am worried about the government policy of offering 15 free saplings to each citizen and lacking any funds for the survival of the trees.
Last year Punjab recorded 44,000 paddy-straw burning incidents within 20 days of October and already this year 117 cases of straw burning have been reported.
As per reports that Punjab burns 2 crore tonnes of stubble and 1.36 crore tonnes of coal every year adding 87400 asthmatic patients to the state in a year. WHO 2016 reports quote 9 out of 10 individuals in the urban areas are affected by air pollution. And thus we have 12.4 lacs deaths per year in India due to air pollution.
Suprit Kaur, a second year student from PAU said that, ” This is a question of our survival and the time has come when we must act. The time is now to reduce consumerism and reduce our carbon footprint.”
The traffic police was highly cooperative and supporting with the safety arrangements during the event.