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Ministry to prepare data on air pollution

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on February 21, 2017

Air pollution related deaths is a sore subject for Anil Dave, Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change. He has once again challenged global reports on mortality linked to air pollution, asking the media to “rely on our own domestic institutions” instead of believing reports on impact from foreign journal.

Unfortunately, there are few studies conducted by government institutions in India. Dave said work was on progress on conducting a study on the health impact of air pollution.

A study by the IIT-Bombay, however, had estimated that deaths linked to breathing bad air have doubled in 20 years since 1995. It estimated more than 48,000 premature deaths in 2015 could be attributed in polluted air in Delhi.

Global air report

Analysing the Global Burden of Disease (published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Lancet) the Health Effects Institute, said in the State of Global Air report that about 1.1 million premature deaths in India were “attributable to PM2.5.” That’s about a quarter of all such deaths across the globe.

On Tuesday, however, Dave repeated a statement he made in Parliament recently, saying while air pollution could aggravate existing medical conditions, there were no conclusive data to link the death with air pollution.

The Environment Ministry said, “These reports are often based on extrapolation without due scientific validation and there is need for caution before arriving at any conclusion.”

‘No rocket science’

On being asked if the government was denying the data, Dave said they were neither denying nor accepting the data linking mortality with air pollution.

“We tend to believe reports on impact of air pollution from foreign journals. We need to rely on our own institutions,” he said, adding that tackling air pollution was “no rocket science.”

Local bodies’ role

Shifting the burden of dealing with air pollution on to local bodies and states, the Minister said the Centre was playing its role of “guide and philosopher” but “local bodies have to play the central role.”

He said the government was taking steps to curb pollution from the major sources — vehicular pollution, biomass burning, industrial pollution from generator sets, and construction and demolition activities.

Air pollution has been linked by the scientific community to many diseases such as respiratory infections, cardiovascular disease (including ischemic heart disease and stroke) and some cancers. Chronic respiratory diseases and ischemic heart disease are major causes of death in India.

Published on February 21, 2017
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