Battling India’s Air Pollution Crisis for a Healthier Tomorrow
Realizing that air pollution alone is responsible for a 10% decrease in human life expectancy is concerning. This highlights the critical need to address this issue and prioritize the well-being of urban residents. According to IQAir’s World Air Quality Report, India was the sixth most polluted country in the world in 2022, with Delhi being the most polluted capital city for the fourth year in a row.
The survey also discovered that 39 of the world’s 50 most polluted cities were in India, with Bhiwadi and Ghaziabad leading the list.
Consequences As a Result of Rising Air Pollution in India:
Air pollution is a major cause of mortality in India, with around 1.67 million people dying as a result of air pollution in 2019. In 2019, pollution-related fatalities accounted for 17.8 percent of all deaths in the country.
Pollution’s health effects include respiratory infections, lung disorders, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and bronchial infections, cardiac arrest, and gastrointestinal issues. Respiratory infections are additionally the third or fourth leading cause of death in India.
According to Dalberg Advisors, achieving acceptable air quality norms in 2019 would have raised India’s GDP by USD 95 billion, or 3%. This is because pollution decreases company and worker productivity, health, and consumer demand.
In 2019, pollution-related economic losses in India were USD 36.8 billion, accounting for 1.36% of the country’s GDP. These losses may jeopardize India’s ambition to become a USD 5 trillion economy.
Despite not directly creating much air pollution due to low consumption, low-income populations bear a disproportionate burden of air pollution from other sources.
Pollution in India takes numerous forms, including using poorly ventilated stoves and open flames for cooking inside homes. India is the eighth most polluted country in the world, with fine particle air pollution (PM2.5) posing the biggest harm to human health. India is home to 39 of the world’s 50 most polluted cities.
Measures to Control Air Pollution
Alternative City Development Plan: There is a strong need for an alternative city development plan that focuses on greater public transportation, secure pedestrian routes, and bicycle lanes, with the introduction of a position for bicycle cops.
Promote Public Transportation: Good public transportation is required, including investments in buses for towns and cities. To address the demands of urban transportation, it is predicted that almost 10 lakh buses will need to be added to the present bus fleet in cities.
Threshold on Private Vehicles: It is possible to envision levying a congestion charge on private automobile owners who drive during peak hours. Similarly, an odd number-even number plate formula might be a useful intervention. Some cities have no-car days on specific days, which should be emulated by individuals in positions of authority and influence.
No Tolerance for Industrial Pollution:Industrial pollution should be avoided at all costs, and real-time monitoring should become a reality. Residents must monitor the streets rather than waiting for statutory entities to intervene, which urban local governments may do.
Preservation of Urban Commons: Another key area that should not be taken over by either public or private agencies for private benefit is urban commons (ponds, water bodies, urban woods, parks, and playgrounds). Urban communities must safeguard, nurture, and grow.
Incorporating Ecological Wisdom in Urban Design: Ian McHarg’s “Designing with Nature” proposes that incorporating ecological concepts into urban design may assist in the development of more sustainable and ecologically friendly communities. This includes taking into account the city’s natural surroundings, open areas, and afforestation.
To guarantee a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future for everybody, India must quickly address air pollution via measures such as improved public transit, stronger industrial emission limits, sustainable urban design, and public awareness.
The time for action is now. Raise public knowledge about the causes and impacts of air pollution and incorporate pollution guidelines and standard operating procedures into city inhabitants’ everyday lives.