Pollution Control Day: 35 Years of Bhopal Gas Tragedy

India celebrates National Pollution Day on 2nd December 2019 to pay homage to the people, who lost their Bhopal Gas Tragedy that took place in the capital city of Madhya Pradesh on the intervening night of 2nd & 3rd December 1984. 

One of the Most Polluted Nation

Every year 2nd December is celebrated as the National Pollution Day. The day aims to spread awareness about the rising levels of air pollution and the need to improve air quality and educate people about it. Currently, 11 out of the top 15 & 15 out of the top 20 most polluted cities of the world are in India. India’s very own capital city Delhi is the most polluted places on this planet right now.

Even after so many alarms, the government and the citizens have collectively made no notable efforts to improve the air quality. Shutting down schools & colleges, construction & industrial activities, running the odd-even scheme are some of the steps but these are not permanent solutions.

While the air is becoming severe every day, some pollution control agencies have determined that breathing Delhi’s air is as poor as smoking 3 dozen cigarettes daily. 

Here is a list of the cities with the number of cigarettes that you smoke daily if you live in one of these cities:

A Day in Delhi equals 38 Cigarettes a day as per this app. See other stats too.

Not only Delhi but major Indian cities including Mumbai, Varanasi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon etc. have the worst air quality. World Pollution Control Day is a way to remember that fresh is the need for everyone and that the increasing pollution needs to be curbed, to keep the air breathable. While we have only one planet to live and only the natural air as the source of our breath, there are hundreds of sources causing this pollution.

The most significant pollution causing elements comes from human activities only, including the burning of fossil fuels, stubble burning of crops and forests, vehicular emissions, construction activities, domestic & household activities and above all, pollution and emissions coming from industries and factories. Ironically, we are turning the air we breathe into poison.

Why we Celebrate National Pollution Control Day?

The primary reason why Pollution Control Day is celebrated on 2nd December is that the history of this day has witnessed an air-related severe disaster in the Lake City of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The Bhopal Gas Tragedy, where the Methyl Isocyanate (MIS) gas along with other chemicals leaked from the pesticide plant of Union Carbide, a pesticide & fertilizer making company, is the most severe and catastrophic industrial disasters, to have ever occurred across this planet.

As per the government affidavit, the incident took more than 3787 lives in total, of which more than 3000 died within hours of the leak. The 2006 affidavit confirms that around 3900 of the injured suffered permanently disabling injuries, from a total number of 5,58,125 being injured.

The incident that affected more than half a million population of the city, involved leakage of 40 tons of MIS gas, causing people to suffocate to death within hours of the leakage. Even till today, people who survived the incident are facing severe health issues. There have been many cases of children being born with permanent physical and mental disabilities to their surviving parents. It is crucial to understand that even after 35 years of the incident, the scars are red. 

Importance of this Day

The day symbolises the need for fresh and good quality air. We, as a civilisation, have growing needs because of the growing population. These needs require large combustion and consumption of a large number of natural resources. However, we leave traces behind us, in terms of harmful gases, non-bio-degradable waste, toxic chemicals and much more, as a result of our daily activities. If we don’t understand that we are pollution the only planet we have to live, we will be escalating the fatality for humankind.

As per the reports and study of National Health Portal of India, around 7 million people die annually around the world due to air pollution. The portal tells that the situation is so severe that 9 out of 10 people suffer from air pollution and do not have access to safe air.

The air pollutants pose a threat to the human body as they can potentially pass through the protective barriers present in the body and can damage our lungs, brain, and heart. Not only this, air pollution is the only factor responsible for the damage of earth’s protective shield, Ozone Layer. If it is not cured at the right time with sound actions, then the damages may become permanent and irreversible. Hence, Pollution Control Day is a way to spread awareness about air pollution and how to eradicate it.

Author: Keshav Kothari

A young CA Aspirant who is a writer and a photographer with the zeal to convey a positive perception through his work.

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