On Children’s Day, mothers demand clean air, cleaner cooking fuel for a greener future.

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Warrior Moms, a nationwide mothers’ movement for clean air met the officials at the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to hand over 5k postcards, out of which 1500 were from Pune, demanding clean air and cleaner cooking fuel.

As the country celebrated Children’s Day on Monday, a delegation of concerned mothers signed 4,936 postcards demanding clean cooking fuel for a safe and healthy future for the women and children.

Warrior Moms, a nationwide mothers’ network for clean air visited the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on Monday and handed over the postcards to the officials present there. The mothers said that they were concerned about the Household Air Pollution (HAP), caused by burning of solid fuels such as wood which is used as cooking fuel in many urban and rural households across the country. 

“HAP disproportionately affects women and young children as they are exposed to the toxic fumes coming out of the chulhas (brick stoves). They have serious health consequences such as Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung damage. On the occasion of Children’s Day and in the backdrop of the COP 27 summit in Egypt we want to draw the government’s attention to this serious yet neglected issue,” said Sherebanu Frosh, a Warrior Mom from Gurgaon.

Mothers from various states- Maharashtra, Punjab, Jharkhand, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Haryana signed the postcards. “While we often talk about vehicular emissions and the smoke coming out of factories being responsible for air pollution, we need to also speak about the pollution that takes place in many homes as the chulhas are burnt every day. We need solid policy interventions to ensure that everyone has access to clean cooking fuels,” said Rama, a Warrior Mom from North Delhi.

Studies have found that women cooking on chulhas are exposed to average air pollution PM 2.5 around 975μg/m3 (very severe). Also, in cities that are severely polluted, domestic biomass burning makes up 40% of the peak winter pollution, making it an urgent issue for all.

The postcards read: “Over 40% of Indian households cook using dung cakes, firewood, agro-residue, kerosene and charcoal due to the unaffordability of clean cooking fuel. The prolonged exposure to smoke from these fuels causes diseases such as COPD, TB, Asthma and Lung Cancer. We request you to prioritise the health of women and children. Clean cooking fuel should be affordable for all.” They are in English and several regional languages such as Marathi and Tamil.

Warrior Moms said that they demand the government to look into the issues of access and affordability for cleaner fuels such as LPG. 

“We also need to try and scale up other alternatives such as solar cookers, biogas etc,” said Manorama Ekka, a Warrior Mom from Jharkhand and one of the signatories to the postcard.

The Moms said that they got a positive response from officials at the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and will continue the conversation to draw the attention of politicians and policy makers to give their children a greener and cleaner future.

Students, auto rickshaw drivers, women from basti, shopkeepers, roadside eateries had signed up. Everyone signed with a hope that LPG prices will be slashed to fit their budget. Rs1100 plus is way too exorbitant for the low income group and that is the reason they have gone back to chulha burning contributing to air pollution that causes serious health implications for the women and their children.

Anuja Bali, a Pune based Warrior Mom said, “Pune sent 1500 postcards. Over 1000 cards were sent with the help of Member of Parliament Rajya Sabha Vandana Chavan who got them signed by the SHG and basti women. Stree Mukti Sangathan also helped us get signatures in Pune and Mumbai. Sunita got 1400 postcards signed on her own and Jeenal Gala from Mumbai also helped us in getting signatures.” 

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