To what extent is India responsible for causing air pollution?
Air pollution is one of the most serious issues in India at present. The main sources of air pollution in India are biomass and fuelwood burning, vehicle emission, adulteration, and traffic. India also ranks third among the countries that emit the maximum amount of greenhouse gases, only next to the United States of America and China.
In winter and autumn seasons, a large quantity of smoke is generated due to massive burning of crop residue in agricultural fields in the rural areas. Farmers usually opt for this option as it is cheaper than mechanical tilling and end up increasing the quantity of smog and smoke in the air. In the year 2013, a study revealed that the lung function of non-smokers in India is 30% lower than Europeans.
The government has been taking initiatives to lessen air pollution in the country. In the year 1881, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act that was passed, aimed to control air pollution. In 2015, the National Air Quality Index was launched by the Indian Government along with IIT Kharagpur.
Major causes of air pollution in India:
- Emission of greenhouse gases
- Fuel adulteration
- Biomass and fuel burning
- Emissions standards
How bad is the situation in India?
Delhi, the capital of India, is the abode of almost 19 million people. Its choking air is a major concern in the country. The polluted air of Delhi is even turning the white marbles of the Taj Mahal black. The city has been facing tremendous air quality concerns. The pollution level is so high that even schools are closed down, flights are canceled and protest rallies are organized. The city can aptly be described as a ‘gas chamber.’
Not just the big cities, rural areas in India are also suffering due to air pollution. This is because the majority of the polluted air that blankets the major cities come from the villages. In the year 2015, nearly 75 percent of demises in India were due to air pollution and 1.1 million of these deaths took place in the rural areas.
The sad reality is that two-thirds of the citizens of India do not reside in the cities. Moreover, 80% of India’s rural families depend on biomass like dung and wood for heating and cooking. Burning crop remnants is also practiced widely. This smoke reaches big cities like Mumbai and Chennai, places that are already troubled by traffic exhaust, construction dust, and factory emissions. So, at present, there are only a few places in India that still get to breathe comparatively fresher air.
More than 1 million premature deaths in India occur because of air pollution every year. Based on its research, the Delhi Heart and Lung Institute has stated that 50 % of the children residing in Delhi have several problems in their lungs. More than two million Indian children suffer from weak lung function all over the country.
The most common ailments that air pollution causes are asthma, cancer in the lungs, leukemia, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, Pneumonia, weak immune system and birth defects, poor lung function, Autism, premature deaths and cardiovascular diseases.