Pune puts up giant lungs to raise awareness about air pollution

Titled ‘My Right to Clean Air’, a giant pair of artificial lungs were put up on a billboard in the heart of Pune city on Monday to increase awareness about the rising menace of air pollution in the cultural capital of Maharashtra.

Made up of a white filter medium with a pair of fans fixed at the back of the billboard, sucking in air to mimic the functioning of lungs while breathing, these lungs will start trapping particulate matter from different sources over the next few days and weeks.

Over time, the lungs will change colour — from chalk white to brown to black — and the billboard fitted with a digital air quality monitor, will display the real-time Air Quality Index (AQI). This billboard has been put up outside Sambhaji Garden by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and an NGO Parisar.

Inaugurating the giant lungs billboard, Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol urged people to visit the billboard and be inspired to initiate action for air quality improvement.

The PMC’s Additional Commissioner Dr Kunal Khemnar described how Pune is actively working for air quality improvement. “Along with converting PMC vehicles to electric, we are also planning to increase charging stations so people can use electric vehicles. There is also a focus on procuring electric buses, adding almost 600 electric buses to the fleet.”

“One of the major hurdles in improving air quality is that there is very little awareness about the issue. Pune has witnessed a steep increase of 70 per cent and 61 per cent in PM2.5 and PM10 levels, respectively, between 2012-13 and 2019-20. And yet, the average Punekar seems unaware of this looming health hazard,” said Parisar’s Sharmila Deo.

The latest emission inventory by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune revealed that the transport sector contributed 87.9 per cent to PM10 and 91 per cent to PM2.5; the industrial sector contributed 33.8 per cent to PM10 and 32.9 per cent to PM2.5; the residential sector contributed 107.7 per cent to PM10 and 57.9 per cent to PM2.5, while the wind-blown re-suspended dust contributed 49.5 per cent to PM10 and 38.1 per cent to PM2.5.

Parisar and PMC will use social-media and request citizens from Pune to take a look at the lungs billboard and will also invite elected representatives from this area to ensure that the political leadership too takes cognizance of the issue of rising air pollution in the city and takes actionable measures to remedy the situation, a release from Parisar said.




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