Children in West Bengal demand clean air during Child Rights Week
Times of India | 18 November 2023
KOLKATA: As part of Child Rights Week, approximately 1,500 children from polluted cities in Bengal, including Kolkata, Durgapur, Burdwan and Asansol, took to the streets to advocate for their right to breathe clean air.
The initiative, organized in response to the rising concerns about air pollution and its adverse effects on children, aimed to raise awareness and emphasize the importance of a healthy environment for their well-being.
The children, comprising students from schools, youth from colleges, and members of child rights-based organizations, participated in a peaceful walk to convey a powerful message about their fundamental right to clean air.
The event emphasized that access to clean air is not merely a privilege but a basic right that must be safeguarded.
Sudeshna Roy, chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, stressed the importance of prioritizing children's right to a healthy future and urged collective action to ensure safe air for them.
Karuna Singh, country director of EarthDay Network, called for unity in creating a healthier, more sustainable future where children can dream and grow in an environment free from the threats of air pollution.
In Kolkata, around 300 children participated in the Walk for Clean Air, starting from PC Chandra Jewellers, Elgin Road Branch, and concluding at the Academy of Fine Arts.
Various schools, including Techno India Public School, Baidyapara High School, Silver Point School, Asutosh College, and government and private institutions, joined the event.
Organizations such as SSDC, Sanchar, NOSK, CFAR, CINI, All Bengal, Seva Kendra were also part of the initiative.
Vinay Jaju of SwitchON Foundation expressed concern about the impact of air pollution on an entire generation of children.
He highlighted survey results indicating that 88.4% of youth in West Bengal view air pollution as a significant threat to human health.
A flash survey conducted by SwitchON Foundation on children and youth perceptions of air quality in West Bengal revealed that 47.3% of respondents considered vehicles the primary contributor to air pollution, followed by 33.8% attributing it to industries, road dust, open waste, and coal power plants. The survey also emphasized the need for government promotion of renewable energy and mandatory environmental education in educational institutions.
Kaustav Chowdhury, Pediatric Consultant at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, underscored the adverse effects of air pollution on children's health, emphasizing the responsibility to provide a pollution-free environment.
The event concluded with heartwarming moments as children, supported by parents, teachers, and community members, united in solidarity for clean air. Banners and placards carrying messages advocating for clean air and the right of every child to a healthy environment were displayed, reinforcing the importance of addressing air quality issues for the well-being of future generations.