Climate change activist Ridhima Pandey writes to PM, says ‘worst nightmare was going to school with an oxygen cylinder’
Pandey has requested the PM to ensure that “an oxygen cylinder doesn’t become an essential part of the life of children, which we have to carry on our shoulders everywhere in the near future”.
Ridhima Pandey (12), an Uttarakhand-based climate change activist, in her two-page handwritten letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that her worst nightmare is going to school with an oxygen cylinder and has requested the PM to ensure that “an oxygen cylinder doesn’t become an essential part of the life of children, which we have to carry on our shoulders everywhere in the near future”.
Pandey said she was compelled to write the letter as she felt that the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak had shown that if human activities are limited and regulated, “we can have less pollution and clear blue skies”.
“We observed the first United Nations’ (UN) mandated International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on Monday (September 7) to create public awareness at all levels that clean air is key to health, productivity, the economy and the environment. So I chose this day. I hope the PM will receive my letter and he will respond. I have sent the letter to the PM through post”.
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HT has a copy of the two-page handwritten letter.
“My name is Ridhima Pandey. I am 12 years old. I live in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. I do hope you will read this letter from me and respond ... Once in school our teacher had asked us about our worst nightmares. I had told her that mine was coming to school with an oxygen cylinder because the air has become so polluted. This nightmare is still my biggest worry,” the letter stated.
She cited hazardous air pollution levels in many densely-populated cities.
“I am worried that, if nothing is done about this problem soon, then in the coming years, we will have to carry an oxygen cylinder to breathe clean air and survive ... kindly help by ensuring that an oxygen cylinder doesn’t become an essential part of the life of children, which we have to carry on our shoulders everywhere in the near future ...” the letter added.
Pandey said amid the pandemic, she has come to know about many research studies that are suggesting a link between air pollution and Covid-19-related incidences and mortalities. “This is disturbing. Every year in many parts of India, the air becomes very polluted. It becomes very difficult to breathe after October. I worry that if a 12-year-old like me finds it hard to breathe, what it must be like for babies or children younger than me in cities such as Delhi and others,” the letter stated.
She stated that “before the nation-wide lockdown, we thought that we would never be able to breathe clean air but the restrictions proved us wrong. The air became cleaner and the skies blue. It proved that breathing clean air for Indians is possible...”
She said the PM has accepted climate change as a reality.
“On Monday, on the occasion of the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on behalf of all children of India, I would like to make a request to you. Please think about our future. Please give strict instructions to all the authorities and officers in charge of managing pollution across the country,” the letter made an impassioned plea.
Last December, Pandey had started an online campaign urging the PM to talk about the alarming air pollution situation in the country in his monthly broadcast on radio Mann Ki Baat and declare the menace as a public health emergency.
Last year, Pandey had joined Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and 14 other children at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, a yearly conference held in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and filed a complaint to protest the lack of government action on the climate change crisis.