More pollution to reduce pollution

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There is no dearth of studies and reports  which prove that burning woods is categorised as a  major contributor to air pollution, a Hindu outfit in Uttar Pradesh is planning to burn 500 quintals of wood to ‘reduce’ pollution. Now isn’t that ironical. Shri Ayutchandi Mahayagna Samiti in Meerut will organise a nine-day-long ‘mahayagna’ in which 500 quintals of mango wood will be burnt. Organised with an aim to take on air pollution, this ‘mega hawan’ will have 1 crore ahuti (offerings to fire) in 108 hawan kunds. It will begin on March 18 and will continue till 26th of this month. 350 priests from Haridwar and Varanasi will be brought to Meerut to conduct the mega ceremony. The outfit believes that the Mahayagna will purify the environment and will ultimately reduce pollution.

Girish Bansal, vice president of the Samiti in the row of justifying the initiative said that the hawan can help in the purification of the environment. It will generate oxygen that will detox the air. He further added that it is written in the scriptures and has also been proven scientifically.

When asked to  substantiate his claims with actual research or studies, he said, It is there on Google. Even NASA said that India has the best ozone layer because hawans have always been organised in the country,” adding that only old discarded trees will be used.

The president further added that they are getting well traind Brahmins from Haridwar who are well versed in sanskrit. We are getting best quality ghee from Haryana. How do you think it will be anyway harmful to the environment. psponsored solely by the ‘humble’ donations of the public.People from all sections of the society, be it rich or poor, have supported this cause and have contributed in their own ways. We are really grateful to them.

The grand anti-pollution initiative, however, hasn’t impressed environmental activists who feel it would do more harm than good.

Though scriptures mentioned that hawans purify the environment. But all that happened ages ago. The situation is now completely different because of the rampant deforestation, industrialisation and population growth. It is in no way feasible today,” Vikrant Tongad, an Uttar Pradesh-based environmentalist told InUth.

He also doubted if the mega hawan will be done in a ‘correct manner’. “Only dried wood should be used for hawans. But I sincerely doubt if it is practically possible for them to collect 500 quintals, which ultimately means that they’ll have to use the wood meant for other purposes,” he said.

Nothing can be done legally to question this initiative. There is no provision under the law through which hawans can be stopped. Even the National Green Tribunal hasn’t addressed this issue ever. Even the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) expressed helplessness in dealing with the issue. Reports mentioned RK Tyagi, regional officer, UPPCB in Meerut  saying that  “UPPCB deals with pollution arising from industries and local bodies. We have no control over religious matters as it is a law and order issue,”

Air pollution has been cited as the second leading health risk factor in India in the study titled “India State-level Disease Burden” published in The Lancet journal last year. The risk factor encompassed both outdoor air pollution from a variety of sources as well as household air pollution.

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