Bharti Airtel, the title sponsor for the Delhi Half Marathon, today asked the organisers of the annual foot-race to address concerns of air pollution posing serious health risks to participants for it to continue the 10-year old association. The half marathon, which first featured in 2005, is scheduled for November 19. In a press statement, Bharti Airtel said it has been a strong supporter of the event over the last ten years but has received “a lot of feedback from our customers and citizens at large expressing concern on holding the marathon in view of the prevailing air pollution in the city.” “For the upcoming edition we have discussed the air quality issue with the organisers, Procam and they have assured us that they are taking several measures to minimise the impact of air pollution on the runners,” it said.
Airtel said the marathon, which infuses the spirit of fitness and good health, is a voluntary event and runners should take into consideration the environmental factors, including pollution and their health, while participating. “Air pollution poses serious health risks and it is important that these concerns are addressed urgently and appropriately by the authorities for Airtel to continue association with the event next year and beyond,” the statement said.
A team of professionals is being deployed by Procam before the race to sprinkle salt mixed with effluent treated water across the entire track to ensure that the dust pollution is negated. Also, no vehicles will be plying on the route of the marathon. The race was sponsored by Hutchison Essar for its first two years, and the company sponsored the event as Vodafone Essar in 2007 following a takeover. Airtel holds the sponsor role since 2008. Procam in a press statement on November 4 called demands for cancellation or postponement of this year’s race as “shortsighted and misplaced.”
“The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon is inherently a panacea for the pollution issue plaguing Delhi. The race day keeps cars off the designated 21 km of the city, and salt mixed with effluent treated water that is used to wash the course, ensures that the dust pollution is negated making the race day far more conducive for running,” it had said. In the statement posted on its website, Procam said further updates and plans for race day will be shared at the countdown press conference on November 9. “Procam International is continuously monitoring this situation and working with experts in the medical and ecological domain,” it said.