Wednesday May 22, 2019

Delhi HC seeks comprehensive action plan to curb increasing air pollution

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday, expressing serious concern on the increasing air pollution in the capital “akin to living in a gas chamber“, asked the central and city government to act strongly to curb pollution and present “comprehensive action” plans to combat it.

Saying pollution levels in Delhi have reached “alarming levels”, a division bench of Justice BD Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva directed them to file comprehensive action plans, saying it is the need of the hour, and termed the plans filed by the union environment ministry and Delhi government “not comprehensive”.

Saying living in such an overpopulated city is similar to “living in a gas chamber”, the bench said: “There must be an action plan along with a timeline and responsibilities of each authority.”

The court posted the matter for December 21.

Acting on an application filed before the bench to provide protective gear or masks to traffic police who are directly exposed to outdoor air pollution all through the day, which has been affecting their health, it asked the department to ensure protective masks be given to them.

The court also said two major causes of air pollution in Delhi were “dust particles” and “vehicular emissions”. It asked the central and Delhi governments to ensure no construction of buildings or roads be carried out in Delhi without first ensuring that generation of dust was minimized.

Both the governments should ensure that there are no construction activities carried out in Delhi without ensuring that dust is minimized,

The Delhi government should ensure that garbage, plastics, and leaves are not burned by people in the open, as was directed by the National Green Tribunal, said the court. It also directed the city administration to publicize in print, audio, and visual media that such practices are prohibited.

Since the SDMs (sub-divisional magistrates) and tehsildars are authorized for a surprise visit to check the construction work with regard to dust generation from construction sites and burning of leaves and garbage, the Delhi government shall file an affidavit on action taken by them,

The court was hearing a PIL initiated by it on the issue of increasing air pollution in the national capital.

(Inputs from IANS)

(Picture Courtesy:-india.blogs.nytimes.com)

 

 

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No Stop To Air Pollution in India, Reducing Dirty Fuels Need of The Hour

"Household fuels are the single biggest source of outdoor air pollution in India," said Kirk R. Smith, professor of global environmental health at UC Berkeley.

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"India has got to do other things to fix air pollution -- they've got to stop garbage burning, they've got to control the power plants, they've got to control vehicles and so forth. Pixabay

Mitigating the use of household fuels could reduce air pollution-related deaths in India by approximately 13 per cent, which is equivalent to saving about 270,000 lives a year, an India-US joint study has stressed.

Nearly half of the country’s population relies on dirty fuels such as wood, dung, coal and kerosene for cooking and heating, said researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and the India Institute of Technology-Delhi.

Eliminating emissions from these sources — without any changes to industrial or vehicle emissions — would bring the average outdoor air pollution levels below the country’s air quality standard.

“Household fuels are the single biggest source of outdoor air pollution in India,” said Kirk R. Smith, professor of global environmental health at UC Berkeley.

A study in the Lancet Planetary Health journal last year found that air quality in India is so poor that 1.2 million deaths in the country in 2018 can be attributed to air pollution.

“We looked at what would happen if they only cleaned up households, and we came to this counter-intuitive result that the whole country would reach national air pollution standards if they did that,” Smith added in a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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“You can’t have a clean environment when about half the houses in India are burning dirty fuels every day,” Smith said. Pixabay

The co-authors of the paper are Sourangsu Chowdhury and Sagnik Dey of IIT-Delhi, Sarath Guttikunda of Urban Emissions in New Delhi, Ajay Pillarisetti of UC Berkeley and Larry Di Girolamo of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

As of early 2016, nearly half of the Indian population was reliant on biomass for household fuel.

“There are 3,000 chemicals that have been identified in wood smoke, and taken at a macro level, it is very similar to tobacco smoke,” Smith informed.

In 2015, India’s average annual air pollution level was 55 micrograms per cubic meter (ug m-3) of fine particulate matter.

Levels in New Delhi often soared beyond 300 ug m-3.

Complete mitigation of biomass as fuel – which could be achieved through widespread electrification and distribution of clean-burning propane to rural areas – would cut India’s average annual air pollution to 38 ug m-3.

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A study in the Lancet Planetary Health journal last year found that air quality in India is so poor that 1.2 million deaths in the country in 2018 can be attributed to air pollution. Pixabay

While this is still far above the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 10 ug m-3, it could still have dramatic impacts on the health of the people.

“You can’t have a clean environment when about half the houses in India are burning dirty fuels every day,” Smith said.

“India has got to do other things to fix air pollution — they’ve got to stop garbage burning, they’ve got to control the power plants, they’ve got to control vehicles and so forth.

“But they need to recognise the fact that households are very important contributors to outdoor air pollution, too,” he noted.

In 2016, India instituted a national programme to distribute clean burning stoves and propane to 80 million impoverished households, or about 500 million people.

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Smith hopes the findings would bolster support for reducing outdoor air pollution, as well.

Similar programmes have been successful in China, where air pollution is now on the decline in 80 cities. (IANS)