Pune, 28th December 2021: Mayor Murlidhar Mohol inaugurated the giant lungs billboard installed on JM Road to create awareness of the health impacts of breathing polluted air.
Titled- ‘My Right to Clean Air’ these ‘artificial’ lungs have been put up at JM Road, outside Sambhaji Garden, by NGO Parisar and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
The installation was inaugurated on 27th December (Monday) by the Mayor. The launch event was attended by the PMC Additional Commissioner Kunal Khemnar, Environment Officer Mangesh Dighe, and the Parisar team. Dr Swapnil Kulkarni, Consultant Pulmonologist and Director of Birth and Breath Clinic was also invited to speak about the impact of breathing polluted air on the human body.
The giant pair of lungs are made up of a white filter medium. A pair of fans are fixed at the back of the billboard, which sucks in the air to mimic the functioning of lungs while breathing. Over the next few days and weeks, particulate matter from different sources will start getting trapped in the filters. Over time the lungs will change colour – from chalk-white to brown to black. The billboard is also fitted with a digital air quality monitor that will record and display the real-time Air Quality Index (AQI).
While addressing the audience, the Mayor urged people to visit this billboard as it is a great initiative in creating awareness and kickstarting action for air quality improvement. For Pune to become a liveable city, air quality is a very important criteria.
“We have been working on air pollution for many years now, and 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% and 61% in PM2.5 and PM10 levels, respectively, over six years (between 2012-13 and 2019-20). And yet, the average Punekar seems unaware of this looming health hazard” said Sharmila Deo from Parisar.
The latest emission inventory by IITM, Pune revealed that the transport sector contributed 87.9% to PM10 and 91% to PM2.5; the industrial sector contributed 33.8% to PM10 and 32.9% to PM2.5; the residential sector contributed 107.7% to PM10 and 57.9% to PM2.5, while the wind-blown re-suspended dust contributed 49.5% to PM10 and 38.1% to PM2.5.
Dr Swapnil Kulkarni said that air pollution has serious health implications ranging from respiratory disorders to chronic disorders like blood pressure, heart disease and different kinds of cancers too. The impact of air pollution on our bodies is largely irreversible.
PMC Additional Commissioner Dr Kunal Khemnar said that 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.
Pune’s Environment Officer Mangesh Dighe said that it is important for Pune to strive to improve air quality from satisfactory to good.
Parisar also released a film on the health impacts of air pollution during the programme. 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 political leadership too takes cognizance of the issue of rising air pollution in Pune city and takes actionable measures to remedy the situation.