22/10/2015 4:25 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Clean Air Nation Rises!" data-caption="The new Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior (the third one to hold the name) on her maiden voyage to the UK.All port arrangements were handed by Gravesend based shipping agents Wavecrest Ltd -" data-credit="L2F1/Flickr">

By Mayank Chawla

What a say it was! Masks, pollution, air quality, pm 2.5 were the buzz words for Greenpeace's clean air activity recently.

The campaign was recently launched with the idea of getting citizens to demand action on air pollution. We all know the air is polluted, but what's being done? Do we even know what air we breathe?

The aim of the campaign is to make the people aware of critical condition of our environment and emphasis on importance of information. This was done by asking them to raise their voices to demand a transparent sharing of information on pollution levels around them and demand a safer environment from the Government.

Greenpeace volunteers at Clean Air Nation event in Delhi recently

There was a lot of buzz since the morning at Delhi Haat as we had put up an air pollution monitoring device at the venue to actually demonstrate what quality of air they are breathing in. Besides, a huge prop of Earth with a clean air nation mask across its 'face' was too put up to show the perilous state of our surroundings and prompt the people to wake and understand the condition in a representative way. It was since 9.00 am in the day that a separate group of our volunteer folks were busy in raising up this site for the activity that was going to take place later that evening.

Meanwhile volunteers were in high spirits and began to arrive at the Greenpeace office. Everyone was extremely motivated. After a brief warm up and introduction session, we were given an excellent presentation by Sunil, Greenpeace campaigner, who explained to us the minute details of the state of affairs of our environment. And more importantly the current status of NAQI and data availability on Air Pollution from the authorities, which proved how important it is to make the real time data on Air Pollution available to the public and how important it is to take steps to reduce air pollution levels around us. This important responsibility of public awareness and pushing the government for a transparent and useful feedback and response system was taken up by Greenpeace through their conventional methods of public engagement and pitching.

Volunteers engaged with people on the urgent issue of air pollution, elaborating on the problem and which solutions can help

After a short lunch, we rushed to the venue to assume our role as the torchbearers of this campaign. The setting was perfect! Outside Delhi Haat, with our prop and the monitoring device in place, volunteers quickly populated the area, to address people entering and exiting the venue. Right from the start, the response was terrific! People readily stopped and heard to what we had to say and happily signed the petitions-which is the centre of this movement, which would then be presented to the minister concerned for Environment.

Citizens taking action at Delhi Haat air pollution awareness drive

During our numerous interactions with people, it was revealed that almost all of them knew that Delhi was the most polluted city in the world, but really felt helpless as to where and how they should express their concern. This also demonstrated the relevance of our campaign as a channel medium to bring the voices of the people to the authorities. However, out of the many of those who were present, some felt that persuading the government is really useless and in fact citizens should come forward and shoulder this responsibility of bringing the change rather than relying on the ministers.

While we could not help but to agree with them on this, but nevertheless we had to explain to them that it's important to first make the people get their hands on the actual data concerning the environment at the same time when any relevant action could be taken to solve the problem. But nevertheless, in between the wonderful exchange of ideas, nobody forgot to appreciate the work we are doing and consistently praised our efforts if leading this process of change People enthusiastically stepped forward to get their pictures clicked either holding the Greenpeace flyer or staying standing in front of the Earth prop that had since morning became a center of attraction from curious visitors.

Besides the locals, there were some foreign nationals too, who were impressed by our endeavor. Within the stretch of about 4 hours, we were able to collect many petitions and were successful to get numerous missed calls on the number mentioned on our placard, which was another way for people to show support.

At the end of the day, we gathered in a huddle, and were informed that we did spectacularly well! There were thoughtful ideas and reviews as to how we could improvise on our further campaigns. But in the end, all of agreed to the anticipation of the day, when the nationwide Clean Air Nation Campaign would come to a successful end and the authorities would really take some concrete action in putting up some meaningful systems in place for our citizens. That would be the best award for all our collective effort! Until then sign this petition

Citizens from all age groups joined the event, demanding Clean Air

Mayank Chawla is a Greenpeace volunteer and loves his lungs!

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