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How WHO’s new air quality norms will impact India

With the emission norms getting more stringent, India is expected to take several decades to achieve the latest WHO norms.

How WHO’s new air quality norms will impact India
Improving air quality of an area is dependent on a host of factors including tackling pollution at source, cleaning cities, mitigating the bad conditions of roads, boosting public transport and taking afforestation drives.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released new air pollution norms, substantially bringing down the permissible air emissions for an area to be considered safe for human health. Even the previous air emission norms prescribed by WHO were considered far more stringent than the norms prescribed by individual countries and with the release of the latest norms the debate about permissible air emissions has reignited. Going by the new norms, most of India’s population inhales polluted air. On account of being host of some of the most polluted cities in the world India already found it extremely difficult to match up to the permissible limits prescribed by WHO. With the emission norms getting more stringent, India is expected to take several decades to achieve the latest WHO norms, the Indian Express reported.

Significance of WHO new air emission norms
The WHO’s new air emission norms underscore the fact that the insidious impact of air pollution on human health is graver than previously thought. The WHO has relied on a series of latest studies which have conclusively proved that even the permissible air emission levels under the previous norms posed significant health risk. The message for government and local government authorities around the world is to strive even harder to reduce the air emission norms in the shortest possible time frame. The message on the wall is starkly clear for countries including India where a large section is vulnerable to the most severe level of air pollution. Every year in the run up to the festival season and winter months, Delhi, National Capital Region, and many other northern cities in Haryana and Punjab are shrouded by dense content of smog.

No easy solution to India’s dwindling air quality
Improving air quality of an area is dependent on a host of factors including tackling pollution at source, cleaning cities, mitigating the bad conditions of roads, boosting public transport and taking afforestation drives. India’s challenge further increases as imposition of more stringent norms on industries such as automobiles will leave the economy short-changed and lead to loss of employment. At several levels, a large number of government schemes and projects such as Swachch Bharat, Namami Gange, Smart City Mission, Metro routes in new cities, Ujjwala Yojana are actually working towards mitigating harmful impacts of air pollution and reducing pollution at source. More such projects with greater intensity are needed to tackle the menace of air pollution.

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