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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Jharkhand: Jharia residents stage sit-in over demand of right to breathe clean air

The sit-in that began on Saturday and ended around 1pm on Sunday saw the participation of over 650 persons who came and sat at the site near the local Deshbandhu Cinema Hall at their convenience

Achintya Ganguly Ranchi Published 19.02.24, 09:00 AM
Jharia residents at a sit-in to protest against pollution.

Jharia residents at a sit-in to protest against pollution. Picture by Shabbir Hussain

The people of Jharia, a coal town in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district, staged a 24-hour satyagraha (sit-in) to press a unique demand — the right to breathe clean air.

The sit-in that began on Saturday and ended around 1pm on Sunday saw the participation of over 650 persons who came and sat at the site near the local Deshbandhu Cinema Hall at their convenience.

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“Some of us sat here through the entire night,” said Akhlaq Ahmad, the secretary of Youth Concept, an organisation that has been pursuing the issue through a sustained campaign for the past few years and creating awareness by often organising runs and rallies.

Those who participated in the sit-in wore white caps with slogans such as meri sas, mera haq (My breath, my right) and Jharia mein pollution bandh koro (Stop pollution in Jharia) written on them.

“The people of this coal town who have been facing the problem of pollution participated in the sit-in spontaneously, irrespective of their religious or political belief, “ Akhlaq further said, adding even some from outside, particularly those working for the protection and preservation of the environment, also came in to extend their support.

They also ran a signature campaign simultaneously and will send a petition to the President with a copy to the governor seeking their intervention for putting an end to the pollution, they said.

At the end of the event, the participants took an oath to work towards stopping of pollution in the town.

A survey conducted by Greenpeace India in 2019 that involved an assessment of 313 cities and towns found Jharia to be the most polluted town in the country with PM-10 levels assessed as 295 micrograms per cubic meter which was almost thrice the permissible level.

Another survey assessing the air quality life index in June 2022 found Jharkhand to be the eighth most polluted state. The experts also said that Jharia would still have a PM-10 level of 207 micrograms per cubic meter by 2024 if the pollution level was reduced by 30 per cent.

“One has to live here to realise the situation,” said Uma Shankar Rajwar, a native of Jharia.

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