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International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies: Pune-led online campaign calls for public advisories on bad air days

The theme for 2021 was ‘Healthy Air, Healthy Planet’.

International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies: A first of its kind campaign began virtually in the state of Maharashtra on Tuesday. During the virtual campaign, citizens as well civil society organisations across the state asked urban local authorities to issue mandatory public health advisories in time that would alert citizens on days when the air is “bad”. According to a report in IE, these advisories would help vulnerable groups remain safe from the severe health effects that air pollution causes. The campaign was led by Pune, but cities like Mumbai, Chandrapur and Nagpur, which are non-attainment cities, also took part in the event, the report added.

Bad air days refer to days when the air quality is poor, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) rising beyond the limits that are considered safe for any location. These levels can be under the poor, very poor or hazardous levels.

Non-attainment city refers to one that does not meet the air quality standard that has been set by the Union Government of India. Maharashtra alone has 19 non-attainment/million-plus cities, the report stated, and this figure is the highest in any state across the country.

Tuesday was selected to begin the online campaign because September 7 is marked as the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, and this year was the second time that the day was marked. The theme for 2021 was ‘Healthy Air, Healthy Planet’, the report further said. The theme was selected with the aim of emphasising the impact that air pollution has on the health of people, with special focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report further cited Mumbai-based Waatavaran Foundation founder Bhagwan Kesbhat as saying that the campaign is not limited to Maharashtra and can be supported by citizens across India.

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