The demand for the “right to clean air” is gaining momentum as various organisations, citizens, public figures, and celebrities unite for a common cause. In a remarkable display of unity and solidarity and a shared commitment to breathing clean air, over a hundred organisations across India have joined forces, with the backing of notable celebrities and parliamentarians. They are coming together to form a virtual human chain on the occasion of the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, celebrated on September 7.
The virtual human chain has been formed on https://togetherforcleanair.com/ in the form of selfies.
A virtual human chain involves citizens concerned about the quality of air they are breathing uploading a selfie image on a dedicated website or social media platform in solidarity with International Day of Clean Air. The virtual human chain has found support and participation from Actor and India’s United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza, Rajya Sabha MP from Pune Vandana Chavan, Justice (retd) Anjana Prakash, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, Mrs India Earth 2021 Jaspreet Kaur Sobti, along with over 800 people who have shared their selfies with the hashtag #TogetherForCleanAir.
The campaign #TogetherForCleanAir, based on the theme for the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Sky, is being led by the Clean Air Collective. The Collective is a coalition of around 150 members – a diverse set of people and organizations from across India, committed to raising awareness about air pollution and taking collective action to improve air quality.
Brikesh Singh, Convenor of Clean Air Collective, shared that the idea behind having a virtual human chain was to try and send the message that irrespective of whether it is Nagpur or Pune or any corner of Maharashtra, air pollution impacts everyone.
“Air pollution doesn`t discriminate; it affects us all, and hence on this International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, we wanted citizens to showcase through this virtual human chain that we`re united in our commitment under the banner of #TogetherForCleanAir. This collective effort of addressing air pollution is taking on a new form—one that emphasizes the collective responsibility of society and innovative approach and its potential impact to achieve cleaner air,” Singh added.
Gaurav Gogoi, MP and Convener of the Parliamentarians` Group for Clean Air (PGCA), shared that while we observe the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, the growing levels of air pollution need our collective attention, and there is an urgent need to tackle this issue as a cohesive force.
In light of the increasing air pollution, PGCA, a consortium of over 37 MPs, takes a leadership role in driving tangible actions that address existing gaps in the sustainability framework in the country.
“As a country, we must constantly remind ourselves that air pollution is not just a winter problem; it exists all year, and it is now India`s most pressing challenge,” said Gogoi, adding that the most worrying aspect of air pollution is that it has an adverse impact on the health of our women, children, and senior persons.
The Assam MP noted that this year`s observance, themed `Together for Clean Air,` clearly calls for a collaborative approach and strategy to pursue better air for a healthy future for all residents. “Governments, whether central or state, urban local bodies, civil society, and individuals must all work together to forge stronger partnerships, take responsibility, and invest in the fight against air pollution,” he added.
Meanwhile, citizen groups across cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, and other cities across the country are organizing multiple events on the campaign #TogetherForCleanAir, from walks to discussions to conducting awareness sessions.