Air pollution not scary enough? It costs India almost a 10th of total GDP

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Published: May 2, 2018 4:02:30 PM

Air Pollution is back in news; this time, due to India's 14 cities that joined the list of top 20 most-polluted cities in the world.

Air pollution not scary enough? It costs India almost a 10th of total GDPIndia’s 14 cities are among top 20 most-polluted cities. (Image: AP)

Air Pollution is back in news; this time, due to India’s 14 cities that joined the list of top 20 most-polluted cities in the world. 13 cities in India, in terms of PM10 levels, figured among the 20 most polluted cities, according to data released by the WHO. And if it is not scary enough, air pollution in India has a huge economic cost too — almost a tenth of India’s GDP.

The latest available data show that about 1.4 million people lost their lives due to air pollution, and the total welfare loss was 7.69% of total GDP. World Bank’s ‘Cost of Pollution’ report shows that India lost $505.1 billion (PPP adjusted) in the year 2013 or 7.69% of total GDP. “Average losses from household air pollution increased, stemming mainly from the higher per capita losses in China and India,” the World Bank had said in its report.

“In northern India and eastern China, because of combustion emissions from multiple sources, including household solid fuel use, coal-fired power plants, agricultural burning, and industrial and transportation-related sources,” the report added.

The air pollution situation in India is likely to get worse in coming days as the country is estimated to become the largest growing consumer of energy — mainly dirty fuel. The share of India’s energy demand is estimated to increase from around 6% in 2014 to almost 11% in 2040.

The WHO report lauded India’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which it said, in just two years, has provided 37 million women living below the poverty line with free LPG connections to support them to switch to clean household energy use. However, with a push for LGP gas and tapping the abundant solar and electrical energy, India is trying to move forward with fuel efficiencies but it will still be dominated by coal and oil. The WHO data also said that nine out of 10 people in the world breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.

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