AIR POLLUTION IN INDIA
Nothing is more important to life than breathing in a clean air. But now days, toxic air is the biggest environmental risk. Air pollution is the mix of particles and gases that can reach harmful concentrations both outside and indoors. According to WHO, air pollution causes about 4 million premature deaths worldwide every year.
For the past few years, the National Capital Region has been experiencing hazardous air quality. Recently, the Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had declared a public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR region as the pollution level crossed the threshold ‘severe plus category.’ New Delhi has been recognized as one of the most polluted city in the world. Further, it is shocking to know that out of the top twenty most polluted cities thirteen are in India. It is clear that the problem of pollution has increased manifold.
The main sources contributing to air pollution in India are well identified- vehicular exhaust, heavy industry including power generation, small scale industries including brick kilns, dust particles due to construction activities, open waste burning, combustion of various fuels for cooking, lighting and heating and poor public transport. Further agricultural waste burning, lack of cleaner technologies to MSMEs, lack of policy priority of the government and increasing human consumption driven by high population growth exacerbates the problem. Of all the pollutants, PM 2.5 exceeds the standards followed by PM10, NO2, CO and ozone.
Consequences of Air Pollution
Air pollution can have serious heath, economic and environmental costs. Air pollution has been linked to higher rates of cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory diseases such as asthma. Air pollution is now the third cause of death among all health risks in India. Economically, it results in loss of productivity due to increased mortality and morbidity. It can have serious environmental effects such as acid rain, eutrophication, smog, ozone depletion and global climate change.
- Initiatives by Government
- Early implementation of BS-VI norm in 2020 to reduce vehicular emission.
- Green India Mission to protect and enhance diminishing forest cover.
- Push for electric vehicles as a cleaner alternative.
- UJJWALA Yojana to replace unclean fuels with clean and efficient LPG
- Launching of National Air Quality Index (AQI) and National Clean Air programme.
- The government aims to increase renewable energy capacity by 175 GW by 2020.
Air pollution continues to grow as population grows along with rapid industrialization and urbanization. Some of the steps such as better urban planning, scientific waste management, improving public transport, introducing less polluting fuels, strict emission regulations and increasing green cover can bring positive results. Further addressing the problem of crop burning through financial and technological support to farmers, proper air quality measurement mechanism and increasing public awareness on the issue are the other much needed steps.
Today air pollution has become a global concern and is a drag on every economy and society. The government and citizens have a collective responsibility in the prevention and control of air pollution. Citizens should switch over to eco-friendly lifestyles and government needs to enact laws to ensure environmental regulations and emission standards.