Over One Lakh Children Under Five Died Due To Toxic Air In India In 2016: WHO

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Over one lakh children under five years of age died in India in 2016 due to exposure to toxic air, as per a WHO report. The study noted that about 98 per cent of children in the same age group in low and middle-income countries were exposed to air pollution.

In the report, titled ‘Air Pollution and Child Health: Prescribing Clean Air’, deaths of about 600,000 children under 15 years of age in 2016 were attributed to the joint effects of ambient and household air pollution.

India reported 60,987 deaths of children under the age of five due to exposure to toxic air in 2016, of which 32,889 were girls and 28,097 boys.

Authorities also asked 113 industries to shut down for not converting to Piped Natural Gas (PNG) in the national capital.

Heavy stubble burning and calm winds kept the pollution level of Delhi in the very poor category as ten areas in the national capital recorded severe pollution levels, authorities said.

The Supreme Court on Monday prohibited the plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the national capital region and made it clear that such vehicles would be impounded if found on the roads in Delhi-NCR.

Another report by Greenpeace also presented a grim picture of India’s pollution level.

According to the report, three of the world’s largest nitrogen oxide air pollution emission hotspots, which contribute to formation of PM2.5 and ozone, were in India, with one in Delhi NCR region.

Delhi-NCR, Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh and Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh and Talcher-Angul in Odisha were the hotspots identified. Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh and Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh had one hotspot.

As per NITI Aayog and Boston Consulting Group (BCG)’s report, 30-35 per cent of PM 2.5, a fine air pollutant that enters the bloodstream and disrupts physiology, is attributed to vehicular emissions. Lax laws and cheap labour have made India attractive for water-intensive and polluting industries such as textiles, leather and sugar. While vehicles, biomass burning, soil and road dust, construction and industrial activities, open waste burning, diesel generators, and power plants contribute to pollution in urban India, seasonal influences such as dust storms and crop burning aggravate the perennial problem.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) agreed to the recommendations made by the CPCB for the first ten days of November when the air quality is likely to deteriorate further due to festival season and stubble burning in neighbouring states.

The recommendations included closure of all construction activities that generate dust pollution between November 1 and 10.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)-led task force also recommended shutting down of coal and biomass based industries, excluding thermal and waste-to-energy plants, from November 4 to 10, intensification of efforts by Transport Department to check polluting vehicles and controlling traffic congestion in Delhi-NCR between November 1 and 10.

Authorities asked 113 industries to shut down for not converting to Piped Natural Gas (PNG). Of the total units, 67 are located in Bawana and Narela industrial areas, an official statement said Monday.

In a meeting chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal here, officials said 1,368 show cause notices and 417 closure directions were issued against polluting units by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).

Terming as “very critical” and “horrible” the prevailing pollution situation in Delhi-NCR, the apex court directed that a list of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles be published on the website of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and transport departments of the NCR area.

Nearly 15,000 people died prematurely in Delhi due to pollution by fine particulate matter in 2016, according to a new study which ranked the national capital third in a list of cities reporting most deaths due to air pollution.

Shanghai was ranked first in most premature deaths at 17,600 and Beijing second with 18,200 deaths due to PM2.5 pollutant.

PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 mm.

A recent report published in Lancet, a noted medical journal, has said that indoor air pollution caused 1.24 lakh premature deaths in India in 2015, more than the emissions from coal power plants or other industrial sources.

In Indian megacities, the premature deaths were 14,800, 10,500, 7,300, 4,800 and 4,800 in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai respectively.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had said high moisture level in the air has trapped emissions from local sources and hanging low over the city in the absence of wind. Air from neighbouring Punjab and Haryana, where paddy stubble burning is in full swing, is not entering the city as of now. When it starts, the situation is expected to deteriorate further, claimed officials from CPCB.

(With inputs from PTI)

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