Other States

Gurugram protests for right to clean air

The protesters were mostly in black and wearing masks.

The protesters were mostly in black and wearing masks.   | Photo Credit: de18 protest1

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Hundreds of people from different walks of life gather at Leisure Valley Park

Mostly dressed in blacks and wearing masks, several hundred people from all walks of life, including students, activists, doctors, corporate employees, auto-rickshaw drivers and security guards, assembled at Leisure Valley Park in Sector 29 here on Sunday morning to hold a massive demonstration seeking their right to clean air.

The two-hour-long protest – seemingly one of the biggest in the Millennium City so far against the air pollution -- was jointly organised by several private and government schools, corporate houses, non-government organisations and hospitals. Some of the major organisations involved in the protest were Heritage Xperiential Learning School, Shri Ram School, Scottish High International School, Marumal Senior Secondary School Gurugram, Gurgaon Moms, I Am Gurgaon, Why Waste Your Waste, Garbage Free India, Nagarro, Make My Trip, Genpact, IBM and Bata.

Nagarro CEO Manas Fuloria said: “Nagarro employs 5,000 people in Gurugram and the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) companies employ may be 100 times this number here and form the main engine of the economy. And on behalf of NASSCOM, Haryana I can state that we are suffering greatly on account of this air pollution. Our people are unwell, they are frustrated, they are leaving for other cities and countries. And our international clients are nervous. They are cancelling their trips to India.”

Mr. Fuloria along with several other protesters also held a token hunger-strike at the venue. The protesters carried placards pleading with the government to grow forests and sought the right to live and breathe clean air.

Pawan Tayla of Art of Living said that it was heartwarming to see the citizens of Gurugram from all walks of life voicing their rallying cry for clean air and breath. A few among the protesters, including activists, doctors and even common citizens, addressed the gathering on the causes, implications and the possible solutions for the rising levels of air pollution. The schools arranged buses to help the children and their parents reach the protest venue.

The air quality has been mostly in the “severe” category in the city for more than 20 days since Diwali forcing the government to twice declare holidays in schools besides imposing several restrictions on vehicles movement and factories in the National Capital Region to keep it under check.

Associate Director Nagarro Sarika Panda Bhatt said the air quality in the city was bad all through the year expect a few weeks during monsoon. She said the citizens’ movement for clean air would not stop with this demonstration and the masses would continue with their protests to mount pressure on the government.

Ruchika Sethi, who runs Why Waste Your Waste campaign, lamented that the cause of clean air was large enough but the number of volunteers were not large enough to galvanise the administration and the civil society to take effective action.

Dr. Parul Sharma Director-Ophthalmology, Max Hopsitals, said air pollution was a national health emergency and the alarming air quality affected all organs of the body.

Another protester, Rashmi Lal, who took part in the protest along with her seven-year-old son, said the message was loud and clear for the government to take action but the citizens too do their bit for the cause.

Megha Jha, one of the protesters, said she was traumatised by the extreme problem of air pollution affecting her family. “Kids are forced to stay at home, they are really unhappy celebrating pollution holidays. We cannot go out for open air dining. Basically this problem has turned us all into prisoners,” said Ms. Jha, a mother of two.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 4:47:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/gurugram-protests-for-right-to-clean-air/article30001750.ece

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