Warrior Moms Initiate Campaign To Spread Awareness On Air Pollution, Hold Event In Pune To Enable Discussions

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Pune, 8th September 2022: Every morning, when Anuja Bali heads to her kitchen and starts school lunches for her children, the smell of burning rubber assails her senses. From her kitchen window, she can see other mothers in small shanties sitting next to open stoves or chulhas. Sometimes, they burn firewood – twigs broken off trees, and often they burn anything they can get their hands on – from rubber to flex boards. While Anuja knows this is against the law and contributes to air pollution, she cannot bring herself to report this violation of environmental regulations.

“How can I ask the poor households not to burn chulha? They also have family, and as mothers, they want to provide home-cooked meals and hot water for baths to their children. The biggest hurdle has been the non-availability of affordable, cleaner cooking alternatives,” says Anuja Bali.


According to the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, over 78% of households in Maharashtra still use firewood stoves. Exposure to smoke from bio-mass stoves can cause problems like COPD, asthma, tuberculosis, and lung cancer and even lead to miscarriages and irregular menses in women.

Anuja is part of a nationwide collective of mothers – the Warrior Moms – who have made it a mission to spread awareness of air pollution and campaign for better regulations on air.

Warrior Moms Initiate Campaign To Spread Awareness On Air Pollution, Hold Event In Pune To Enable Discussions

On 7th September, the occasion of the UN International Day of Blue Skies for Clean Air also marked the second anniversary of the Warrior Moms. An event was held at Indradhanushya Environment Centre, Pune, to enable doctors and local community members to discuss the impacts of air pollution on health.

At the event, ‘Choking Millions’, a film on chulha-use, produced by the Warrior Moms and Turtle On A Hammock, was screened. Pulmonologists addressed the audience on the health impacts of air pollution. It was an interactive session with active audience participation where senior citizens with impaired vision and congested lungs, pregnant women, children, rickshaw drivers and chulha burning women spoke about their experiences living and working in polluted air conditions.


PMC Environment Officer Mangesh Dighe launched the Marathi version of #KnowYourRights to empower citizens to be able to report violations.


Shila Dawre, the first lady auto driver in India, shared her story. “My 95-year-old mother-in-law was admitted to the hospital when she fell sick. The doctor asked if she smoked bidi or cigarettes, so the family got furious. The doctor said her lungs have so much carbon that he thought she must have been a smoker in her younger days. Finally, they found that 50 years ago, she used to cook on chulha for a long time. Her lungs were impaired due to that. It was life-long damage to her lungs even after so many decades.”


Pediatric pulmonologist and allergy specialist Dr Vijay Warad said, “Air pollution can negatively affect even the unborn child. It affects all of us. Ordinary persons like you and I must do whatever we can to bring about a change.”

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According to Pulmonologist Dr Aparna Birajdar, “Today’s programme, organised by Warrior moms, was an all-inclusive platform where I, as a Pulmonologist, could convey the ill effects of air pollution on human health, not only to the high-risk population groups but also to various stakeholders. We can hope that through such concentrated efforts, more awareness will be created regarding the hazardous effects of air pollution and what measures we can take to mitigate these in long term.”




Amarnath Karan, Centre for Environment Education, said, “Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution due to their developing lungs, brains and other organs. But, people are not aware of this fact. We need to educate caregivers, policymakers, patients and even medical professionals about the health risk to children due to poor air quality. This education should also have the aspects of monitoring air pollution sources around and abating its emissions by taking appropriate measures.”




“We often don’t look at the symptoms we exhibit when naming an illness. It was important that doctors speak about air pollution and its ill effects to the common people directly so they are able to understand the root causes of their health issues and can address them,” said Anuja.




Nitin Pawar, General Secretary of Rickshaw Panchayat, congratulated Warrior Moms on the timely and appropriate program organised for auto drivers and the communities most vulnerable to the severe health impacts of air pollution. He assured their continued support towards clean air action.




Shila Dawre concluded, ” When the river starts at the source, it is very small, but as the river starts flowing it grows rapidly and continues its journey. The Warrior Moms have taken this small step today, and they will soon become the biggest movement for clean air.”




Affordable clean cooking fuel for all is one of the main campaigns run by Warrior Moms. Access to affordable clean cooking fuel not only improves the health of women and children but also goes towards building a just and equitable society.