BE2C2 Report — The pollution in India is turning out to be a downright menace with pollutants in the air becoming more and more aggressive every passing day.
Every new day witnesses an increased toxicity in the air, which has enlarged the radar of threat upon the Indian population.
Confirming the worst, a study has revealed that at least two Indians on an average lose their lives to air pollution every minute on a daily basis.
According to the medical journal The Lancet, over a million Indians die every year due to air pollution and some of the worst polluted cities of the world are in India.
The study released this week but based on 2010 data estimates that globally 2.7-3.4 million preterm births may be associated with PM2.5 exposure and South Asia is the worst hit accounting for 1.6 million pre-term births.
The study says causes of air pollution and climate change are intricately linked and needed to be tackled together.
The smog over northern India is extracting a heavy toll, every minute two lives are lost in India due to ambient air pollution, the study published in The Lancet says.
Further, according to an estimate by the World Bank, this would amount to a whopping USD 38 billion loss in income towards labor in India.
Air pollution has also emerged as the deadliest form of pollution and the fourth leading risk factor for premature deaths worldwide, it says.
Recently, 48 leading scientists released a study which found that Patna and New Delhi – national capital of India (also the most polluted city in the world) are the worst for PM 2.5 levels, or the fine particulate matter that hurts the heart and lung most.
Contradicting some of the Indian reports, The Lancet says coal fired power plants contribute to 50 per cent of the ambient air pollution.
Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Anil Madhav Dave recently admitted in Parliament that the country spends a mere Rs 7 crore annually on monitoring air pollution for a vast country of India’s size with a 1.3 billion population.
He had also said no credible study to quantify the number of people who have developed lung and allied diseases or number of deaths directly as a result of air pollution is available.
Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, a trained physician himself, says, “Pollution when it starts affecting lungs especially in little children can be a killer, it is like a slow poison and there is no reason for me not to be worried, a lot has been done, but still a lot that needs to be done.”
Meanwhile, called The Lancet Countdown, this study will report annually in The Lancet.
(The article originally appeared in Jeddah-based Al Bilad English Daily Online)