Greenpeace India has revealed that there are virtually no places in India complying with the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQ) standards. This is one of the major reasons most cities are critically polluted. In its latest report, ‘Assessment of Air Pollution in Indian Cities’, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, highlighted that “the entire country is experiencing a public health crisis due to high air pollution levels.”
The international environmental advocate stressed the need for the government to adopt time-bound national and regional action plans. The report said it requires a system approach to understand pollution levels regularly and take action. “The first step in the direction is having a robust monitoring of air quality across the country to know information in real time and using the data to arrive at strategies that would protect public health and reduce pollution levels.” The non-governmental organization said the strategies should become an action plan. To be effective, it has to have targets and penalties and be time bound.
Air pollution, with the rapidly increasing population and urban drift, has become a public health and economic crisis in India. Reports and data highlight increasing numbers of people die prematurely every year due to increasing pollution levels. Greenpeace India has brought to the fore that deaths due to air pollution are only a fraction less than the number of deaths caused by tobacco usage.
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Moreover, the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) says that about 3283 Indians died per day due to outdoor air pollution in India in the year 2015. Air pollution is affecting people’s lives, public health and the economy as a whole. And India being a developing nation, with its industries, factories and motor vehicles, air pollution is indeed very much a serious problem.
The centre and state governments, in collaboration with think tanks, NGOs, and working groups must work out with policies to tackle air pollution. It is also every citizen’s responsibility to help overcome this crisis.