Monday January 20, 2020

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)

 

Next Story

Mercy for the Nirbhaya Rapists?

Gender discrimination is the root of many evils. While keeping the aspiration of females down, certain males have committed many wrongs in the past.

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The Nirbhaya incident in Delhi was “instrumental” in bringing about a kind of gender awareness renaissance in India.

By Salil Gewali

Gender discrimination is the root of many evils. While keeping the aspiration of females down, certain males have committed many wrongs in the past. Apart from various kinds of physical tortures, the mental tortures undergone by defenseless females are endless. Within the confinement of four-walls innumerable sins are still being committed which mostly go unreported. However, it was Nirbhaya’s rape incident in Delhi that was “instrumental” in bringing about a kind of gender awareness renaissance in India. Post-Nirbhaya incident, a lot many changes in the laws have been made. The safety and security of women have been prioritized, the nation-wide the whole police departments have been sensitized, to a greater extent the road transportation has been made women-friendly.

Nirbhaya rape
The public is right and more sensible now to point out the “hard cruelty” with which the gang had sexually tortured Nirbhaya that night.

Thanks to the countless number of protests across the country condemning the six rapists. The people from all walks of life came together and relentlessly pressurized the government that the Nirbhaya convicts must be awarded capital punishment. Media’s contribution in the campaign is immeasurable. Alas, India’s judiciary is so annoyingly slow it has taken over 7 years to pronounce the death sentence.

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Advocate Indira Jaising suggested that the convicts of Nirbhaya rape case could be “forgiven” by the parents.

However, now nothing could be so mind-blowing than the flood of condemnation against the comments by a veteran advocate and social activist Indira Jaising. Without a sense of guilt and potential backlash, she suggested that the convicts be “forgiven” by the parents. Jaising’s idea has clearly touched a raw nerve of the major population in the country. People’s anger is spilled well over social media. What is most noteworthy is the scathing condemnation directly from the horse mouth — the mother Asha Devi. A very bold lady, who determinedly fought for justice for so many years, thunders – “Who is Indira Jaising to give me such a suggestion? The whole country wants the convicts to be executed. Just because of people like her, justice is not done with rape victims,” Asha Devi aptly further adds — “Can’t believe how Jaising even dared to suggest such this; I met her many times over the years in Supreme Court, “not once” she asked for my well-being and today she is speaking for convicts. Such people earn a livelihood by supporting rapists; hence rape incidents don’t stop,”

The latter comments by the Nirbhaya’s mother clearly hint the doubt at the “integrity” of the advocate Ms. Jaising. How on earth that one who has not spoken a word of sympathy in spite of many encounters in the court can reserves the right to suggest that which offends the distressed victim party. Asha Devi deserves a salute for her boldness. Yes, India Jaising is one of the advocates who knocked the door of the Chief Justice of India in the middle of the night in July 2015 in order to seek the mercy for the dreaded terrorist Yakub Menon.

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In 2015, the Delhi Government proposed to award the Nirbhaya juvenile convicts with Rs 10000/- and a sewing machine.

Again, here is another bombshell to drop which many of us may have forgotten. Can we ever “forgive” for the shocking proposal in 2015 by Delhi Government to award the Nirbhaya juvenile convicts with Rs 10000/- and a sewing machine?  Who has approved such bizarre ideas and which leaders are responsible? What kind of lesson should the citizens take from this?

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I think the public is right and more sensible now to point out the “hard cruelty” with which the gang had sexually tortured Nirbhaya that night. They had used the iron-rod to inflict deep injuries upon the girl which is unspeakable, which is very unpardonable. So, given the increasing cases of rapes and subsequent inhumane cruelty and cold-blooded killings, Capital punishment can be the only answer and “one of the deterrents”. Before the divine retribution, the hard rod of punishment should not be spared at all. 

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali