Friday January 24, 2020

National Clean Air Programme Should Set Higher Targets

Air pollution in India is now a national security issue. It needs as much attention and budget provision as discussion and sense of urgency in the procurement of defence equipment

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India, air pollution
An Indian Air Force soldier drinks tea as he stands guard next to rifles during a break at the rehearsal for the Republic Day parade on a cold winter morning in New Delhi, Dec. 26, 2018. VOA

By Rajendra Shende 

There is a striking similarity between Paris Climate Agreement and India’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) launched recently. The Paris Agreement is an agreement by the countries to map a global action to keep global warming two degrees centigrade below pre-industrial level.

It utterly lacks teeth to deal with issues, among others, non-compliance and the essential need for finance and technology transfer for achieving that target. Volunteerism is the undercurrent on which the shaky edifice of Paris Agreement rests.

India’s NCAP is a similar story. It is a plan to make a plan to keep the air quality that meets the norms of the World Health Organisation (WHO). While the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) deserves all the appreciation and encouragement to get going on the job, though quite late and definitely five years behind schedule of another polluted country, China. Non-recognition of the nation-wide threat seems to be the undercurrent on which this well-intended and much-needed national programme rests.

To be fair, the anti-pollution measures have already begun in India over the last decade, though in bits and pieces and through knee-jerks, mainly in setting air quality and vehicle emissions standards, national air quality monitoring programme and indices, fuel quality norms etc.
Even after 42 measures issued earlier by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and graded response action plan that addresses the seasonal and level of severity for Delhi and other cities, air pollution remains a national challenge of Himalayan proportions.

The only major action that has been effective in providing the immediate benefits is extraordinary and accelerated level of penetration of LPG-use in the household and in public transport like buses and auto-rickshaws. Energy efficiency measures through use of LED bulbs, efficient fans, refrigerators and air conditioners have helped in reducing the consumption of fossil fuel in generating extra electricity and the air pollution.

Credit certainly goes to the present government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal. Sadly, India still remains on top of the list of the countries where a majority of the mega cities have air quality which is a hundred times worse than the WHO norms.

Nearly 50 per cent of the top most polluted 30 cities are in India. Delhi is now more known dubiously as the world” air-pollution capital rather than India’s political capital. Out of the seven million deaths that take place globally, as per WHO, due to outdoor and indoor pollution, nearly 1.25 million deaths ( 2017) take place in India.

Delhi. air pollution
A man rides his bicycle in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, Dec. 26, 2018. VOA

About 51 per cent of these deaths were of people younger than 70. More than four decades of the efforts on a ‘smokeless chulha”(domestic cooking stove), first by the government and then by the mushrooming national and international NGOs, the deaths in 2017 due to indoor pollution caused by the burning of the solid fuel in cooking stoves stands at half a million, as per one report. This in a country where clean environment and pollution-free air and water are constitutionally mandated.

India” efforts at the highest level really started more than four decades back when The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, was enacted under Article 253 of the Indian Constitution to enhance the well-being of its citizens which is now deep-rooted in India” development philosophy and strategy. The 106 pages of the NCAP with nearly 63 pages of substantive text and rest broad strategies and annexes represent, at best, good intentions and a structured way to move forward. The document, however, grossly overlooks the nation-wide emergency and drastic measures needed to redress the grim, dangerous and fast-deteriorating situation.

In a country where emergency measures are not unfamiliar, one wonders why the NCAP sounds like any other plan that embodies elephantine speed of execution.

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The goal of the NCAP is to meet the prescribed annual average ambient air quality standards at all locations in the country in a stipulated time-frame. It recognises that internationally, the successful actions had been city-specific rather than country-wide. It also recognises that 35-40 per cent reduction of pollutants in five years for cities, such as Beijing and Seoul, particularly in regard to particulate matter (PM 2.5 and PM 10) concentrations. Hence, the target of 20-30 per cent reduction in such concentration by 2024 is proposed under the NCAP (2017 as base year).

Recognising Modi” proclamation that the 21st century is going to be India” century, it is not clear why the NCAP target is lower than what is achieved in Beijing and Seoul. If India takes the top place in GDP growth globally, why do we have such low targets in meeting air quality over five years, particularly considering the fact that it is the 65 per cent of India” young population would be the main victims of the worsening air quality?

Air pollution in India is now a national security issue. It needs as much attention and budget provision as discussion and sense of urgency in the procurement of defence equipment. (IANS)

Next Story

Canon India Ramps Up Efforts To Grab Healthcare Imaging, Security Market

On the camera front, India offers great opportunities in segments like wedding, wildlife, sports and media

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Canon India also showcased EOS-1D X Mark III - the flagship product from the Canon EOS range, featuring latest advancements and innovations in digital imaging technology. Wikimedia Commons

After cementing its position across four key business verticals — camera, home printers, office printers and commercial printing solutions — Canon India is now ramping up its effort to top the growing healthcare imaging and security surveillance market in the country, a top company official said here on Wednesday.

After grabbing a substantial share in the Indian market in the professional printing segment which has been among the fastest growing verticals for Canon in India, the company now eyes diagnostic imaging market which is witnessing a tremendous growth with new super-specialty hospitals and diagnostic centres being opened at a fast pace, including in the tier II and II towns.

“In 2020, our key focus areas will be medical and security verticals in India. There have been a strong demand in the field of diagnostic imaging like MRIs, CT scans and X rays in the recent past which, we think, is an important segment for us in this country going forward,” Kazutada Kobayashi, President and CEO, Canon India, told IANS.

Although India will be the youngest country in the world by 2020 with a median age of 29 years, the number of elderly people is likely to increase significantly after that, according to the “State of Elderly in India” report.

By 2021, the elderly population will reach 143 million.

Canon
After cementing its position across four key business verticals — camera, home printers, office printers and commercial printing solutions — Canon India is now ramping up its effort to tap the growing healthcare imaging and security surveillance market in the country. Wikimedia Commons

According to market research firm Mordor Intelligence, the increase in life expectancy over the years has resulted in an increase in the population of the elderly. Hence, the growing geriatric population is expected to augment the demand for diagnostic imaging equipment.

The global medical imaging market was approximately $34 billion in 2018 and is expected to generate around $48.6 billion by 2025, according to Zion Market Research, and the of a huge patient pool and rise in the number of hospitals and diagnostic centres in India, Japan and China are anticipated to fuel the medical imaging market in the Asia Pacific.

“Today, if you go to a hospital and take a picture of your chest, that needs to be printed on a film. We propose to print that on a paper. This is my economical and environmental-friendly vision,” said a beaming Kobayashi on the sidelines of the launch of its flagship camera EOS-1D X Mark III.

According to him, security is another big area to focus on.

“Security surveillance camera systems have come of age and at Canon, we are aiming to make a revolution in this area soon,” said the executive.

Canon’s business in India is divided between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) verticals.

The B2C category includes camera and home printers while B2B includes commercial printers and sales to corporates and MSMEs.

Canon India also showcased EOS-1D X Mark III – the flagship product from the Canon EOS range, featuring latest advancements and innovations in digital imaging technology.

“On the camera front, India offers great opportunities in segments like wedding, wildlife, sports and media. One great observation is that the demand for high-end cameras is also coming from smaller Indian towns and we are excited about this,” said C. Sukumaran, Director, Consumer Systems Products and Imaging Communication Products, Canon India.

Priced at Rs 575,995 (taxes included) for the body, including 512GB CF Express Card and Reader, the EOS-1D X Mark III will be available mid-February onwards at select retail outlets across the country.

The EOS-1D X Mark III offers an unmatched continuous shooting speed up to 16fps with viewfinder shooting. It houses a newly developed 20.1MP Full Frame CMOS sensor.

canon
After grabbing a substantial share in the Indian market in the professional printing segment which has been among the fastest growing verticals for Canon in India, the company now eyes diagnostic imaging market which is witnessing a tremendous growth with new super-specialty hospitals and diagnostic centres being opened at a fast pace, including in the tier II and II towns. Wikimedia Commons

“The newly developed algorithms in the camera enable not just eye detect and face detect autofocus but also head detect autofocus. This allows highly precise autofocus and tracking even in challenging conditions and with multiple and rapidly moving subjects,” informed Sukumaran.

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According to Kobayashi, the high-end camera will further enable the company promote the photography culture in India.

“Our latest offering will cater to the growing list of professional photographers in India and open up newer possibilities in the imaging space,” he added. (IANS)