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World Environment Day: Delhi NCR’s citizens find the air quality ‘bad’, ‘very bad’

World Environment Day: Delhi-NCR’s citizens find the air quality ‘bad’, ‘very bad’

World Environment Day: Delhi-NCR’s citizens find the air quality ‘bad’, ‘very bad’
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By Shruti Malhotra  Jun 5, 2020 10:06:08 AM IST (Updated)

An Air Pollution Awareness Survey by the Lung Care Foundation under the ‘Saaf Hawa Aur Naagrik’ (SHAN) project to mark the World Environment Day has thrown up some interesting findings.

Home to some of the most polluted cities in the world, Delhi-NCR is the air pollution capital of the world. An Air Pollution Awareness Survey by the Lung Care Foundation under the ‘Saaf Hawa Aur Naagrik’ (SHAN) project to mark the World Environment Day has thrown up some interesting findings.

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The survey of over 1700 residents of the national capital region shows that:
  • More than half or 57.7 percent rated the air quality as “bad” (36.2 percent) or “very bad” (21.5 percent).
  • 83.6 percent were unaware about Air Quality Index (AQI).
  • 82.2 percent knew that air pollution has an impact on their health.
  • 38.8 percent respondents or their family visited the hospital due to respiratory discomfort in the last one year.
  • A World Health Organization (WHO) study in 2018, found that 11 of 15 cities in the world with the maximum concentration of PM2.5 particles were in India. In fact, the tiny PM 2.5 particulate matter is easily absorbed by the lungs and can enter the bloodstream.
    Enough studies have shown a link between exposure to hazardous air and cardiovascular illness, respiratory disease, lung cancer and stroke. WHO estimates that around 90 percent of people worldwide breathe polluted air.
    While 76.5 percent of those surveyed were aware that air pollution affected the healthy functioning of their lungs, brain and heart, 92.2 percent didn’t know the difference between PM2.5 and PM10.
    About half of those surveyed listed vehicular emissions, waste burning and industries as the main sources of air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
    A 2016 study by IIT-Kanpur showed that road dust that accounts for 35 percent of PM2.5 in Delhi’s toxic air is the biggest cause of air pollution followed by vehicle emissions, domestic cooking, power plants and industries.
    Almost half (42.6 percent) of Delhi-NCR’s citizens reported a deterioration in air quality in the last 3-4 years and yet only 31.4 percent had knowledge of any public health emergency declared by the Delhi government in the last two years. Yet the fact that air quality in the region is the worst in the winter months from October to January was not missed on most!
    When asked if they were aware of any program or initiatives undertaken by the local government to tackle air pollution, 78.1 percent said they were not aware of any government programmes to mitigate the air pollution crisis.
    A whopping 78.9 percent of those surveyed have never heard of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). The NCAP aims to tackle air pollution at the national level with a 20-30 percent reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations by 2024.
    In a reply to Parliament, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar outlined the programme saying, “Under NCAP, 102 non-attainment cities have been identified based on ambient air quality data for the period 2011-2015 and WHO (World Health Organisation) report 2014/2018. The city-specific action plans which include measures for strengthening the monitoring network, reducing vehicular/industrial emissions, increasing public awareness, etc. have been prepared and approved for ground implementation for all 102 non-attainment cities.”
    While the government needs to do more to improve the quality of air in our cities, 40.1 percent respondents held citizens responsible for reducing air pollution in the city, followed by the state government (23.4 percent) and the central government (18.9 percent). Surprisingly, a cool 78.7 percent are ready to support government action to cut air pollution levels, even if they were inconvenienced.
    When 97.3 percent of Delhi-NCR’s citizens say that they think they have a responsibility to protect the environment, the air suddenly smells cleaner and the future does not look very hazy!
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