Navi Mumbai: Waatavaran installs giant lungs in Kharghar to raise awareness about air pollution

Worried over the rising air pollution at Kharghar, Dr Kavita Choutmal the Mayor of Panvel City Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has demanded setting up of an expert committee to study the deteriorating air quality. The Mayor who visited the giant lungs billboard at Kharghar on Saturday morning has called citizens and authorities to join hands to achieve clean air.

Titled- ‘The Billboard that Breathes’ these ‘artificial’ lungs have been put up near the Bank of India Chowk at Sector 7, Kharghar. It was installed by Waatavaran Foundation on January 15, 2021.

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 suck in the air to mimic the functioning of lungs while breathing.

Waatavaran Foundation, which recently conducted an air quality monitoring study revealing that residents from the Kharghar-Taloja-Panvel belt were breathing polluted air for 17 hours, installed a giant-sized ‘breathing’ lungs at Kharghar to demonstrate the lethal impact of polluted air on human health.

“Air Pollution is causing an impact on people’s health in not only Kharghar but also Taloja and Panvel and I will write to Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to organise a meeting to prepare a Clean Air Action Plan for this region,” said Dr Kavita Choutmal.

She also said that there was an urgent need to set up a steering committee with authorities, elected representatives as well as experts as members.

Over the next few days and weeks, particulate matter from different sources will begin getting trapped in the filters. This will lead to the lungs changing 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).

Bhagwan Kesbhat, Founder of Waatavaran said that the giant lungs billboard is the best way to create awareness about the health impacts of air pollution. “When we placed a similar billboard in Bandra, Mumbai it took 14 days to go completely black but in Kharghar the colour has begun changing a day after installation itself,” he said.

Sudhir Srivastava, chairman, MPCB said, “Such visuals (like the billboard) are important methods to raise awareness about finer particles bringing out a vivid image on how they impact the lungs. Air quality spikes could be mostly due to vehicular emissions in these areas. The impact needs to happen across all stakeholders to understand how various sources of pollution are contributing to this issue.”

According to Kesbhat, Waatavaran will use social-media and request citizens from Kharghar to take a look at the lungs billboard and will also invite various elected representatives from this area to ensure that political leadership too raises the issue of rising air pollution in the Kharghar-Taloja-Panvel belt.

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