Air Quality campaigning in India: Warrior Moms in action!

It was seeing blue skies and breathing clean air during lockdown that prompted a group of mothers in India to form Warrior Moms, aiming to do as much as they could to prevent air quality returning to the state they had known in the past.

In this article Bhavreen Kandhari, a co-founder of Warrior Moms, talks about the air quality problems that India faces and tells us about some of the issue on which the group have been campaigning.

Air pollution has emerged as a grave concern in India, posing significant risks to public health and the environment. Several factors contribute to the country’s poor air quality, including industrial emissions, vehicular pollution and agricultural practices due to poor policy. However, the persistence of this issue has led to increased awareness and activism, with various stakeholders, including politicians and citizen action groups like the Warrior Moms, taking up the cause.

India’s struggle with air pollution can be attributed to several key factors. Rapid urbanisation and industrialisation have led to increased emissions from factories, power plants, construction activities and a failed waste management system in most states and cities. Vehicular pollution, especially from outdated vehicles and insufficient emission control measures, remains a significant contributor. Agricultural practices such as stubble burning, common in certain regions, exacerbate the problem during specific seasons. Additionally, the geography of India, with its landlocked plains and limited ventilation, traps pollutants, further deteriorating air quality.

Recognising the severity of the issue, the central government launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in 2019, aiming to reduce pollution levels in the country’s 131 most polluted cities by 20-30% by 2024. NCAP focuses on improving monitoring and assessment capabilities, promoting technology adoption, and increasing public participation. Additionally, policies like the Bharat Stage VI emission standards, implemented in 2020, have led to stricter norms for vehicular emissions.

State governments have also taken action. The Delhi government, for instance, implemented the odd-even vehicle scheme, which temporarily restricts certain vehicles based on license plate numbers to reduce congestion and pollution. Other measures include the introduction of electric buses, the promotion of public transportation, and the encouragement of cycling and walking through infrastructure development. Surely all this is being talked about now but slow on implementation and missing strict enforcement of policy and laws.

To support action on air pollution, Warrior Moms launched a ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign, aimed at empowering citizens with knowledge about their rights regarding clean air and a healthy environment. This initiative seeks to educate communities about the laws, regulations, and policies in place to protect their right to breathe clean air.

By raising awareness and providing information on legal avenues, the Warrior Moms empower citizens to hold accountable those responsible for air pollution and advocate for stricter enforcement of environmental regulations.

The ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign is a powerful tool in ensuring that individuals are equipped to demand a pollution-free environment and actively participate in the fight against air pollution in India.

Recognising the harmful effects of traditional cooking methods that rely on solid fuels like wood and coal, Warrior Moms have taken up the cause of clean cooking practices. Warrior Moms campaign promotes the adoption of clean cooking technologies such as LPG, (liquefied petroleum gas) stoves, biogas plants and electric cookers.

They emphasise the significance of transitioning from traditional methods to reduce indoor pollution, improve respiratory health, and mitigate the overall burden on the environment doing their best to also influence the policy to support subsidies for LPG.

Several initiatives, including awareness campaigns, door-to-door interactions, community workshops and studies to educate and empower households and pressurise government to subsidise LPG for the masses are being taken up by the group of mothers. By highlighting the benefits of clean cooking practices and providing access to affordable alternatives, they aim to catalyse a widespread shift towards cleaner and healthier cooking methods.

Air pollution remains a critical challenge in India, but concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including politicians and grassroots organizations like the Warrior Moms, offer hope for a cleaner future. While political initiatives and regulations are crucial for systemic change, the passion and perseverance of individuals can bring about meaningful transformations.

By prioritising clean cooking practices and raising awareness about their benefits, Warrior Moms are supporting the path towards cleaner air and healthier lives for all the children. It is through collective action and sustainable solutions that India can overcome the menace of air pollution and pave the way for a greener and brighter today and tomorrow for all our children.


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