By S.N. Tripathi An apple a day keeps the doctor away is passe. Yet, it applies so well to the health of our environment, especially the atmosphere. We keep our body healthy so that it can efficiently fight diseases. A weak body will need heavy medication to fight a disease and, in the process, may develop side-effects. This general principle applies to the atmosphere too. Relatively clean air with the concentration of ambient pollutants under control is in a better position to deal with occasional large emissions. Large forest fires, volcanic eruptions and dust-storms are unexpected incidents that may momentarily cause air pollution levels to spike above permissible levels. After such events, a healthy environment would be easily able to return to a cleaner state. In Delhi, however, after over 10 days of “severe”-level air quality, it improved to a “very poor” level during the December scare. This is a sign of an unhealthy environment that takes time to recover to its original state, though even that state may not be very healthy at all. This is a cause of great concern and needs immediate public and policy attention. The Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) have recorded unprecedented levels of air pollution exceeding all permissible limits almost all year long. The situation is such that, just like an unhealthy body, its immune system fails to recuperate from external periodic events such as crop burning in Punjab and Haryana, excessive vehicular pollution, or construction dust. This is because even in the normal state, year round, the pollution caused by poorly-regulated industries as well as coal-fired power plants with obsolete emission control norms exceeds the limits that the environment can handle. The lack of a fine self-correcting balance mechanism creates a fragile situation ready to explode. Sadly, while Delhi has the “privilege” of great media attention, other cities across the plains are worse off. Lucknow has been recorded as the most polluted city in India, while PM2.5 values of Kanpur, Moradabad and even Ghaziabad are not far behind. There is, in fact, evidence that most Indian cities with populations of over 100,000 have pollution levels well exceeding WHO limits. One way to ascertain atmospheric pollution levels is to measure the rate at which dust particles block sunlight. Research based on the ISRO network shows that since 1995, pollution in the atmosphere has been increasing across India, with a much steeper rise in the IGP. What are the major reasons behind this and what could be the possible solution to this gigantic problem, which is now the largest killer globally as estimated by the Lancet Commission? It is worth remembering that even with all sincere efforts, it will take years, if not decades, to secure clean and breathable air in our cities. Pollution in water bodies such as a river is much better understood compared to atmospheric pollution. The overall size of a water body is only a fraction of the area of the land. For example, the Ganga and the Yamuna put together will only be a fraction of the area of the IGP. Even with a simpler system with far greater understanding we are struggling to keep our rivers clean. The atmosphere has active and complex interactions between gases, particulate and liquid droplets, especially during monsoon and winter-time fog. The problem is further compounded by transformation of gases into particulate matter, giving rise to secondary formations. Data shows that during winter, up to 50-60 per cent of total PM2.5 is secondary in nature (forming in the atmosphere rather than released at source) because of conversion of gases such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, volatile organic carbon (VOCs) and poly aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) into particles. It is a highly challenging task to trace the sources of these gases. Existing sampling methods are not capable of distinguishing between primary and secondary sources. Hence, the present source-apportionment studies that employ these techniques fail to provide the comprehensive understanding that is required to solve this problem. The reported sources are based on particles collected on filters followed by their chemical speciation. Unfortunately, these analyses can only achieve speciation at most by 50 per cent (lack of mass closure), limiting our ability to properly understand the sources. This is also precisely the reason that the problem of air pollution needs to be looked at a regional scale as gases emitted elsewhere can contribute to PM at a different place, thus limiting the overall efficacy of source mitigation efforts solely driven by local considerations. The regional nature of the problem requires inter-state cooperation. This can be achieved by creating a single empowered agency with scientific, technological and legal arms. There is a valley-like effect in the IGP — the tall Himalayas in the north not allowing air masses to rise and disperse, as is the case in other parts of the country. Inversion conditions during winter further reduce the dispersion capacity of the lower part of the atmosphere, leading to accumulation near the surface. Such weather conditions cannot be avoided. One way to deal with these is to adopt stricter emission laws for the IGP, with rigorous enforcement backed up by severe penalties. The monitoring networks can be scaled up using low-cost, automated sensors that have been giving promising results. Experience of other countries can be used to combat this problem. (S.N. Tripathi, a professor at IIT-Kanpur, has been closely studying air quality, climate and health over the years. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at (IANS)]]>

Kejriwal meets Khattar, talks of a cleaner 2018

AQI Air Pollution Level Health Implications Cautionary Statement (for PM2.5) 0 – 50 Good Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk None 51 -100 Moderate Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution. Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. 101-150 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected. Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. 151-200 Unhealthy Everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion 201-300 Very Unhealthy Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected. Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion. 300+ Hazardous Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects Everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion    

Delhi minister wants parking fee hike reconsidered
Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot on Wednesday urged Lt Governor Anil Baijal to reconsider the steep hike in parking fees and said the decision had been taken in haste. The parking fees were hiked by four times in an effort to control pollution by making people move away from private transport but Gahlot said “the decision is having a negative effect”.
AAP in the dock Even as the Delhi government got over the embarassment of its water-spraying helicopters not being able to fly becaue of the smog they were supoosed to dissipate in the first place, an RTI revelation on Wednesday it “in a spot” after it failed to specify its utilisation of the Rs 787 crore green cess collected during 2017. The Delhi government—in the RTI reply to Sanjeev Jain, a Right To Information activist—said it received Rs 50 crore in 2015, Rs 387 crore in 2016 and Rs 787 crore as environment cess from January 1 to September 30 in 2017. The Arvind Kejriwal government said it has spent Rs 93 lakh of the environment cess in 2016, but there was “no mention of any expenditure” in 2017. The Congress said the city government was not utilising funds for strengthening the public transport system, and instead was involved in “blame game”. “It is complete negligence on the part of (Chief Minister) Kejriwal’s government. It has not been able to utilise Rs 787 crore which is lying idle,” Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken said. Lashing out at Kejriwal, Maken said: “Instead of using the money which is lying idle, he is busy aiming at the other state governments and the Centre instead of doing his bit.” Maken said Kejriwal could have purchased road vacuum cleaners, as the dust “is the single biggest contributory factor for air pollution” in Delhi. He accused the Delhi government for deterioration in the DTC fleet over the last few years. “When we were in power, the strength of the DTC was 5,445 buses, which has now gone down to 3,951 buses. There has been a shortfall of 1,500 buses in three years,” he said. But Delhi govt says it has a plan Under this withering attack, the Delhi government said it has prepared a one-year short-term plan to tackle air pollution. Revealing the government’s plans, an official said: “The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has prepared a one-year short-term plan, under which it proposes to procure 500 electric buses within one year.” He said the government was planning to procure buses of two different sizes—Standard and Medium. According to him, a standard size bus costs Rs 2.6 crore while the medium size bus comes for Rs 1.6 crore. Cleaner fuel rollout brought forward The government has brought forward the implementation of the Euro-VI compliant cleaner transport fuels in Delhi by two years saying the requirement would now be effective in 2018. “Taking into account the serious pollution levels in Delhi and adjoining areas, the Petroleum Ministry in consultation with public oil marketing companies (OMCs) has decided for preponement of Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) grade auto fuels in NCT of Delhi w.e.f 01.04.2018 instead of 01.04.2020,” an official release said here. Noting that oil refiners are making huge investments in fuel upgradation to produce the required BS-VI grade fuels, the government said it had decided to “leapfrog directly from BS-IV to BS-VI grade by 1st April, 2020, skipping BS-V altogether”. The BS-IV grade transportation fuels were rolled out across the country from April 1, 2017.


(Reproduced tweets do not reflect Lokmarg editorial policy)
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Gas chamber! Delhi air worse than after Diwali

All of us together have to find a soln to this. Every year, during this time of the year, Del becomes a gas chamber for almost a month

— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 7, 2017 Authorities hiked vehicle parking fees by four times in Delhi. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) to discourage people from using private vehicles. In neighbouring Haryana, whose rice production helps prop up the Central foodgrain pool, authorities made a show of clamping down on the now-outlawed stubble burning, the term in vogue for the popular practice of setting monsoon season paddy fields alight to clear them of the detritus that mechanical harvesters leave in the ground. Over 1,000 farmers were charged with fines of nearly Rs 12 lakh imposed. The National Green Tribunal rapped the Centre and the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab over the spike in pollution in the city and asked why helicopters were not used to sprinkle water to control dust pollution. Seeking replies from these state governments along with the CPCB in two days, the tribunal said a sharp spike in air pollution in Delhi-National Capital Region is “choking children”. “Children can’t breathe… what will you do?” NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the Delhi government. “Why are you not sprinkling water by using helicopters?”
“There is need for immediate cancellation of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon to be held at 7 a.m on Sunday, November 19, 2017 in view of the alarmingly high levels of air pollution in the capital.”
Indian Medical Association statement
The Central Industrial Security Force ordered over 15,000 masks for its personnel deployed at IGI Airport, Delhi Metro and other government installations in Delhi and NCR region and said they would be provided prompt medical assistance in case of breathing trouble. On Tuesday, different locations of Delhi-NCR reported PM2.5 values at 23 to 19 times higher than the permissible limit. The safe limit for PM2.5 is 60 microgrammes per cubic metre according to Indian standards, and 25 microgrammes per cubic metre as per international standards. According to weather analysts, Delhi is suffering from one of its worst “smog situations”, due to combined meteorological factors and stubble burning in the neighbouring states. Recording severe PM2.5 levels at all its 10 monitoring stations across Delhi-NCR, the Central government’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) has cautioned ‘everyone’ in the region to “avoid walk, outdoor activities, burning anything including incense sticks and candles, shut the windows, mop the floors and not vacuum clean and use only N-95 or P-100 standard respirators and not to rely on dust masks”. According to SAFAR data that predicts the air quality of Delhi-NCR to remain ‘severe’ for the next two days as well, PM2.5 values ranged from 453 units (minimum) at Pusa to 569 (maximum) at Lodhi road at 2 p.m. According to Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PM2.5 at Anand Vihar was recorded 558 units at 2 p.m., with CPCB measuring the AQI at 439.

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Analyzing the severity of air quality based on AQI, Burari Crossing in North Delhi has the cleanest air with a 378 AQI, followed by 361 at Vikas Sadan in Haryana’s Gurugram and 350 at Rohtak (Haryana)— all considered ‘very poor’ while all other regions in Delhi-NCR had ‘severe’ AQIs with dangerous trend in PM2.5 levels. The AQI levels recorded were —Delhi Technical University (452), Punjabi Bagh (435), Dilshad Garden (413), North Campus (445), Shadipur (466), Mandir Marg (433), Pusa (453- SAFAR data), Dwarka (435), Lodhi Road (569-SAFAR data), R.K. Puram (437), Siri Fort (430), Mathura Road (464), Aya Nagar (409), Anand Vihar (439), Faridabad (412), Sector-125 Noida in Uttar Pradesh (449), Setor-62 Noida (443) and Vasundhara in Ghaziabad (443). According to weather analysts, the negligible wind speed along with other meteorological reasons are behind the spike in air pollution, along with unabated stubble burning in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana. “Currently the westerly winds from Rajasthan and Haryana are flowing at negligible speed, this causes the condensation of air near the surface which thereby mixes with the pollutants from local emissions and those from the stubble burning. This is the reason that there is no scope of dispersal of the pollutants for now,” Mahesh Palawat, Director private weather forecasting agency, Skymet said. “The situation will remain same for next few days,” he added.


  (Reproduced tweets do not reflect Lokmarg editorial policy)
(with IANS) // ]]>

Delhi pollution touches 19 times safe limit

Air pollution linked to kidney disease

The increasing toll of chronic kidney disease (CKD) globally can significantly be attributed to the rise in air pollution, researchers have found. The researchers, who presented their research at ASN Kidney Week 2017 that ended November 5 in New Orleans, Louisiana, used the Global Burden of Disease study methodologies to estimate the burden of CKD attributable to air pollution. “Air pollution might at least partially explain the rise in incidence of CKD of unknown origin in many geographies around the world, and the rise in Mesoamerican nephropathy in Mexico and Central America,” said Benjamin Bowe, MPH, in a statement. Epidemiologic measures of the burden of CKD attributable to air pollution, including years living with disability, years of life lost, and disability-adjusted life years — a measure that combines the burden of living with the disease and the early death caused by the disease — suggest that the burden varies greatly by geography, with higher values seen in Central America and South Asia. Previously, Bowe and his colleagues described an association between increased levels of fine particulate matter and risk of developing CKD. The estimated global burden of incident CKD attributable to fine particulate matter was more than 10.7 million cases per year.
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Pakistan blames Indian farmers for smog

Pakistani officials have said that stubble burning by Indian farmers has caused a thick blanket of smog in Punjab province. The officials with Environment Protection Department of Punjab province told Xinhua news agency on Saturday night that the smog is causing various diseases and the provincial government is taking measures to control the situation. The department’s minister Zakia Shah Nawaz Khan said that the smog engulfed the province for the last two weeks, and is feared to continue for the coming week. She added that the smoke from the Indian farms moved at a velocity of 7 to 8 km per hour towards Punjab province. Local experts said that the total Air Quality Index in the provincial capital of Lahore is 357 whereas the maximum limit should be around 100, adding that if the situation was not controlled, the level is feared to exceed 500 soon. Syed Mubashir Hussain, an official of the environment department said that the provincial government has banned stubble burning across the province and violators were being arrested. A total of 197 First Information Reports have been filed against violators and 65 people have been arrested due to stubble burning and solid waste burning. Some 175 pollution-causing units have been stopped. About 15,718 smoke emitting vehicles have been confiscated, and a total of 43 lakh Pakistani rupees (about $43,000) fine has been imposed, Hussain told Xinhua. Apart from this, brick kilns using substandard fuel and running their units without emission control devices like wet scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators and fly ash arrestors have also been closed, he added. Smog has not only affected heath of people, but also caused road accidents. According to local media reports, at least 18 people have been killed and 45 others injured in separate fog-related accidents across the province. Air traffic was also affected due to smog-caused low visibility. Six domestic flights from various airports have been suspended due to smog, spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines said in a statement. The Met office said that smog will disappear after rains or heavy winds, but there was no possibility of any of it in the next 48 hours. (IANS)

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Delhi-NCR air quality falls back to severe

After a day’s breather, the air quality of Delhi-NCR worsened again on Friday, owing to drop in temperature, rise in wind speed and increase in humidity. The air quality of Delhi-NCR is, however, still better than what it use to be 48 hours back, due to change in the direction of wind from Wednesday onwards, thereby barring the effluents being carried from Punjab and Haryana where stubble burning continues. On Friday, Delhi’s Environment Minister Imran Hussain also reviewed the ambient air quality status and said urgent steps are required to reduce pollution. Pointing to stubble burning in neighbouring states, the minister urged the citizens to take all steps to minimise the their contribution to the bad air by using public transport and keeping a close watch on burning of garbage. “Agricultural residue burning has been observed in Punjab and Haryana. However, the wind direction towards Delhi is not from these states, as currently winds are coming from Uttar Pradesh and adjoining Madhya Pradesh,” the minister said. According to a government statement on Friday, the air quality in the capital has been “very poor” since october 17. The national capital on Friday recorded the Air Quality Index (AQI) at 331 units, against 311 on Thursday and 355 on Wednesday, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. Several places in Delhi-NCR, where air-quality improved from “severe” to “very poor” on Thursday, slipped back in the “severe” category. “Existing air condition in Delhi is induced due to localised sources and sources situated in the NCR region. This fact is evident as values observed in NCR are higher than the values in Delhi,” Hussain said. The CPCB recorded 338 units on AQI in Haryana’s Gurugram (against 354 on Wednesday), 349 in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida (321 on Thursday, 344 on Wednesday), 383 in Ghaziabad (352 on Thursday and 402 on Wednesday) and 401 in Rajasthan’s Bhiwadi (372 on Thursday and 417 on Wednesday). Air quality in Haryana’s Faridabad reverted to “very poor” on Friday with AQI at 344, against 82 or “satisfactory” on Thursday. In Delhi, the major pollutant PM2.5, or particles with diameter less than 2.5mm, saw a rise, with average volume recorded 337 units till 7 p.m, while in Delhi-NCR the combined average of PM2.5 was 331 units on Friday. The average PM2.5 on Thursday in Delhi was 280 units, based on the results from 16 different stations. The Delhi Technical University (DTU) in north Delhi on Friday turned out to be the most polluted location, with a “severe” level of AQI at 407 units. Dilshad Garded in east Delhi offered the most clean air on the day, with a “moderate” AQI, followed by Pusa in central Delhi where AQI was at “poor” level — the second-most clean air in Delhi. Safe limit for PM2.5 is 60 (microgrammes per cubic metre) as per national standards and 25 globally. “The winds are still south-easterly as against north-westerly, which were earlier coming from Punjab and Haryana. The temperature has however dropped and humidity has also increased in the past 24 hours,” Mahesh Palwat, Director of private weather forecasting agency Skymet, told IANS. (IANS)

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Stubble burning turns Delhi into gas chamber

AQI Category, Pollutants and Health Breakpoints AQI Category (Range) PM10 24-hr PM2.5 24-hr NO2 24-hr O3 8-hr CO 8-hr (mg/m3) SO2 24-hr NH3 24-hr Pb 24-hr Good (0-50) 0-50 0-30 0-40 0-50 0-1.0 0-40 0-200 0-0.5 Satisfactory (51-100) 51-100 31-60 41-80 51-100 1.1-2.0 41-80 201-400 0.5 –1.0 Moderately polluted (101-200) 101-250 61-90 81-180 101-168 2.1- 10 81-380 401-800 1.1-2.0 Poor (201-300) 251-350 91-120 181-280 169-208 10-17 381-800 801-1200 2.1-3.0 Very poor (301-400) 351-430 121-250 281-400 209-748* 17-34 801-1600 1200-1800 3.1-3.5 Severe (401-500) 430 + 250+ 400+ 748+* 34+ 1600+ 1800+ 3.5+ *One hourly monitoring (for mathematical calculations only) The international permissible limit for PM2.5 is 25 microgram per cubic metre while for India, it is 60. For PM10, the permissible limit is 100. In Delhi, Noida, and Gurugram, air quality deteriorated in the past 24 hours, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) recorded at ‘very-poor’. The index value was 344 in Delhi, 363 in Noida, and 318 in Gurugram. On Tuesday, the AQI at these three places was 309, 315, and 345 respectively.

In the air: Delhi govt has another odd idea

The Delhi government on Monday expressed its willingness to the Centre to bear the cost of aerial sprinkling of water in the national capital in order to help reduce air pollution. Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain wrote to Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Harsh Vardhan and said the state government was “ready to bear the cost”. Hussain urged Vardhan to ask the Civil Aviation Ministry to carry out the sprinkling through a helicopter or aircraft so as to help settle particulate matter suspended in the atmosphere.
On Wednesday, air quality at Ghaziabad (NCR) was worse than post-Diwali (recorded on October 20) level, and was described as severe by the Central Pollution Control Board. The AQI in Ghaziabad was 425 on Wednesday, as compared with 412 on October 20. Meanwhile, satellite images from the National Aeronautics and Space Administrations’ FIRMS (Fire Information for Resource Management System) Web Fire Mapper show stubble-burning reached an all-time high with both Punjab and Haryana marked in red (depicting fire). Stubble-burning was part of the pollution control agenda of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), which a day before Diwali (October 19) implemented “very poor” and “severe” categories of its Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) — which includes more strict measures — to curb air pollution in Delhi and adjoining areas. “It (stubble-burning) was an action point, but nothing much was done against stubble- burning as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is already involved,” EPCA member Usmaan Naseem told IANS. According to EPCA officials, state authorities (Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) are supposed to keep a check on stubble-burning, as toxic smoke from such an action, along with weather conditions and wind speeds, impacts air quality in Delhi-NCR. The unabated stubble-burning in Punjab and Haryana, estimated to be around 35 million tonnes, was banned by the tribunal in November 2015. However, due to lack of support from the respective governments, farmers continued to burn paddy straw even as states demanded more funds from the Centre to support their farmers against the menace. “Air pollution is set to increase. People will complain of heaviness in breathing towards morning and evening hours. The north-westerly winds from Punjab and Haryana are slowing down in Delhi, and this will continue for some days,” Mahesh Palawat, Director of private weather forecast agency Skymet, told IANS. (IANS) // ]]>

Diwali gone but bad air days stalk Delhi region

The stubble burning problem

The growth of paddy cultivation in Punjab and Haryana over the past two decades has added to the NCR’s pollution woes. The kharif season paddy crop is harvested mechanically in both states leaving the stalks of the plant in the soil. Removing the stalks by hand is labour intensive and has significant costs, about at least Rs 2,000 per acre. Farmers prefer to burn the stalks where they are in preparation for the winter wheat crop. Wheat is sown in November across this region, a little later than the warmer states of the plains and Central India and a little before the cooler states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The estimate for paddy acreage in Punjab and Haryana in the 2017 kharif season is about 42 lakh hectares, almost as much as the land area of Haryana itself. This year’s acreage is marginally lower than last year but yield is expected to be the same because more farmers have opted for better varieties. It is estimated that 35 million tonnes of paddy residue is burnt in Punjab and Haryana every year. Coming as it does at the end of the year when the southwest monsoon has retreated, wind speeds have reduced and temperatures fallen, it adds up to a perfect storm of particulate matter for the dusty, jammed capital. The National Green Tribunal is hearing a case on stubble burning in which the governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are respondents. The next date of hearing is October 30.
  “Coincidentally, the air quality index two days after Diwali remains the same as last year,” Vivek Chattopadhyaya, air quality expert at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said, adding that weather also played a crucial role in air quality. He pointed out that an increase in number of monitoring stations over the last one year might also have contributed to recording higher level of pollution. “There were six monitoring stations in 2016, while this year it is 16,” he said. High humidity, low wind speed and low temperatures meant the pollutants hovered very close to the surface and could not be dispersed, he added. The Supreme Court ban on sale of firecrackers did not prevent people from lighting sparklers, rockets and loud Diwali “bombs” though the volume was lower than previous years. Some people claimed to have travelled out of the city or shopped online to buy firecrackers, while many claimed they used last year’s leftover stock to celebrate Diwali. The court on October 9 affirmed the ban it had imposed on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR). The court said the ban would be in effect till November 1. Expressing concern over poor implementation of the Supreme Court ban on the sale of fire crackers in Delhi-NCR, industry chamber Assocham on Saturday said ensuring a clean environment should be a combined responsibility of the Centre, the state governments, civil society and public at large and not of the apex court alone. “The economic interest of the traders and the manufacturers was involved; but once the Supreme Court had banned sale of firecrackers, the enforcement of the order should have been ensured by the Union Environment Ministry, Delhi government and the state governments of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana in entire NCR,” said D.S. Rawat, Secretary General, Assocham.  

Pollution kills 2.5 million in India every year

A study released by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health on October 19 estimates nine million people deaths worldwide in 2015 attributable to pollution. This makes pollution the top reason for premature deaths, beating AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis put together. Here are some other Lancet findings:
  • India and China accounted for 5.4 million of the 9 million pollution-related deaths in 2015
  • About 16 per cent of all deaths worldwide are because of pollution. This is one-and-a-half times more than those killed by smoking and six times more than the deaths caused by road accidents.
  • Pollution is the cause of more than a quarter of all deaths in low-income countries that have high pollution levels. Of the 9 million deaths in 2015, 6.5 million were because of air pollution.
  • Most pollution-related ailments are non-communicable, including renal and cardiovascular disease.
  • Pollution costs the world almost $ 5 trillion, or about 6 per cent of total economic output.
“Ambient air pollution in rapidly expanding mega-cities such as New Delhi and Beijing attracts the greatest public attention. However, WHO documents that the problem of ambient air pollution is widespread in low-income and middle-income countries and finds that 98 per cent of urban areas in developing countries with populations of more than 100,000 people fail to meet the WHO global air quality guideline for PM2·5 pollution of 10 µg/m3 of ambient air annually.”

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