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January 28, 2020

Policymakers talk about Kolkata’s Air Pollution and usefulness of AQLI

Kolkata’s deteriorating air quality along with several other cities in the Indo-Gangetic Plains has grabbed headlines.

In the recent past, Kolkata’s deteriorating air quality along with several other cities in the Indo-Gangetic Plains has grabbed headlines. To enable citizens and policymakers know about how particulate pollution is affecting their health and their communities; and reveal the benefits of policies to reduce particulate pollution, the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) has developed a pollution tool called Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) that tells its users about how much longer would they live if they breathed clean air.

City-based doctors, journalists, civil society representatives, and students attended a workshop organized in Kolkata that revealed details about AQLI and other air pollution-related challenges that clouds capital city’s air. The meeting jointly organized by Active Citizens Together For Sustainability (ACTS) and EPIC India was held at the Bhawanipur Educational Society College on 27th January 2020.

Sharing her insights on the impact of air pollution on human health during the workshop, Dr. Sanjukta Dutta from Fortis Hospital, Kolkata added, “The health costs of breathing in polluted air is enormous. In my so many years of treating patients, I have seen a considerable rise in the number of patients who suffer from allergic and respiratory disorders. It’s sad and worrying to see that Kolkata’s air which we inhale to live is now bringing ill health, even early death.”

Talking about how residents can play an active role in curbing air pollution, Dr. Deepanjan Majumdar, Principal Scientist, and Head NEERI said, “Over the years we are seeing multiple sources of air pollution. Along with government efforts we need a shift in lifestyles to save guard human life from toxic air pollutants.”

Taking a cue from that, Ajay Mittal of Kolkata for Clean Air added, “It’s now high time that citizens and policymakers of Kolkata understand that we need urgent as well as long term measures to address this problem. Only when air pollution becomes headlines for media houses, gets talked about by the policymakers, can the situation change. It’s a complex challenge and its killing all of us silently.”

The workshop attended by Dr. Kalyan Rudra  Chairman, WBPCB  among others aimed at collectively raising pollution literacy and was attended by more than 50 participants representing different stakeholder groups of Kolkata.   

All the participants were handed over a city-specific AQLI handout for increasing their awareness.