Winter is coming and Delhiites have started experiencing the menace of pollution – it gets worse as the year nears its end. Notably, ambient air pollution is responsible for 3,283 premature deaths every day in India, according to the Global Burden of Disease study. And though monsoon rains gave the much-needed respite from the pollution, a combination of festivals, post-harvest crop burning, the firing of brick kilns and reduced wind speed will soon increase the level of particulate air pollution in India, Vivekanand Jha, executive director of The George Institute for Global Health, wrote in a column in Indian Express today.
“Half of the top 20 polluted cities in the world are in India. India has seen the steepest increase in air pollution since 2010. Although China achieved global notoriety some years ago, it is India that has experienced a nearly 150 percent increase in ozone-attributable deaths over the past 25 years. In comparison, the number of people who died due to diseases caused by pollution in China did not increase much in the same period,” the column reads.
The battle against air pollution is a lengthy one but it is also one that must be fought. According to the report, the country needs better urban planning starting with proper land-use assessment, reducing major transport activity close to communities, relocating traffic sources (roads, airports) from crowded areas, avoiding the mixing of industrial and residential areas, making better roads, reducing uncovered areas in cities by planting more grass and plants, improving transport technologies, and increasing awareness of the societal burden imposed by air pollution.
“Interdisciplinary academic groups including experts in toxicology, environmental health, analytical chemistry, applied physics, healthcare researchers, economists, and social scientists should evaluate the full range of impacts of air pollution on human health, develop tools to identify pollutants, find origin of particles, and develop culturally-appropriate solutions, the IE report says.