After Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, Nagpur too its own ‘pair of giant lungs,’ set up outside KRIMS Hospital in Nagpur. An interactive art installation in the form of giant-sized ‘breathing’ lungs will now demonstrate the lethal impact of polluted air on human lungs and health of citizens.
Titled ‘The Billboard that Breathes’ these ‘artificial’ lungs have been put up on the footpath outside KRIMS Hospital on Central Bazaar Road. The installation was unveiled on 23 February 2020 in the presence of Hema Deshpande of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Corporator and ex mayor Pravin Datke, Dr Sameer Arbat Pulmonologist at KRIMS Hospitals, RJ Naman Radio Mirchi, Leena Buddhe Founder of Centre For Sustainable Development, Bhagwan Kesbhat Founder of Waatavaran Foundation and Shikha Kumar Campaigns Manager at Jhatkaa.org.
This initiative has been spearheaded by Jhatkaa.org, a digital advocacy organisation, in collaboration with Waatavaran, an environmental organisation and Centre For Sustainable Development, KRIMS Hospitals, amplified by Radio Mirchi .
The lungs are fitted with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, the same filters used inside operation theatres, anti-pollution masks and other places to trap dust. A pair of fans fixed at the back of the billboard would suck in air to mimic the functioning of lungs while breathing.
Over the next few days and weeks, particulate matter from dust pollution and vehicular emissions will begin to get trapped in the HEPA filters. This will lead to the lungs changing colour – from chalk white to brown to ultimately black. The billboard is also fitted with a digital air quality monitor that will record and display the real-time Air Quality Index (AQI).
The location near KRIMS hospital has been chosen to simply create a larger awareness about the health impact of air pollution. People often believe that air pollution is more serious in industrial areas as compared to residential areas.
“People often confuse bad visibility with bad air. Air pollution is all around us as air has no boundaries. It’s high time Nagpurians take air pollution seriously. The AQI monitor on this board will show real time pollution levels in Ramdaspeth area. Acceptable AQI level should be below 50,” said Dr Sameer Arbat.
Bhagwan Kesbhat, Founder of Waatavaran NGO, said that it’s a matter of shame for every person living in Maharashtra that our state happens to be one of the most polluted states in the country today with the highest number of non-attainment cities. He said, “We urge the government to take this critical issue impacting the health of every resident of Nagpur seriously. The Maharashtra state government under the new leadership should lead from the front by going beyond the minimal national standards of 20-30 percent reduction and set higher standards of reductions for itself and achieve it.”
“We had an amazing response to this installation when we had put it up in Mumbai in January this year. Watching the lungs change colour and turn black, that too in just two weeks (in Mumbai), is an alarming reminder of how serious air pollution is, and the urgent need to tackle it. Industrial emissions are a huge contributor to toxic air in Nagpur, and through a public initiative like this we hope to drive into action on both fronts – from individuals as well as from the government,” said Shikha Kumar.
“All Nagpurians need to raise a very strong and collective voice against air pollution that threatens not only our health but is also severely impacts the health of our children. We will try and bring as many as people, especially children to see these lungs to ensure that the awareness on air pollution grows,” said Leena Buddhe.
Sudhir Paliwal, Convener, Vidarbha Environment Action Group (VEAG) and Nagpur Climate Crisis (NCC) while sharing his opinion said, “Had these artificial lungs been installed at a busy roads like Central Avenue or any other area where there is high vehicular traffic or industrial activity, they would have changed colour in a very short span of time. “We hope that certain people with vested interest do not conclude that Nagpur is not a polluted city just in case the lungs installed at Ramdaspeth takes a longer time to go black.”
Citizens can witness the giant lungs change colour from white to black as they will be stationed in Nagpur for one month.