Collective Effort Needed to Tackle Pollutionby Opinion Express August 9, 2018 0 comments
Air pollution is eating into our health and economy. Its prevention is the priority of the nation.
That air pollution is a lethal, silent killer was a known. But a Word Bank report recently cited by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Earth Science, Environment, and Forests, has brought out that the ramifications are no longer limited to the degradation of the environment or affecting one’s health and well-being though 1,000 people have died as a result of air pollution in the Capital between 2013 and 2017 besides a further 17 lakh residents of the 1.69 crore people in the city were estimated to be suffering from acute respiratory infections. But the unrecognised casualty has been the economy. The perils of smog in the Capital have been such that policy-makers, in an attempt to safeguard the environment, not only rationed the traffic but several industries, including coal factories, were forcibly closed down. Laudable as this decision was, it entailed large-scale suffering especially for the weaker sections of society. Schools were shut down and office-goers were asked to work from home, for example, but such ad hoc, short-term measures hurt those the most who could not bear the loss of work.
The most depressing story, however, was that while China made some strides in controlling air pollution deaths, India went backwards. India topped the global list of countries in terms of loss of labour output due to pollution. The country’s labour losses due to air pollution in 2013 stood at 55.39 billion dollar or about 0.84 percent of its GDP. China followed next with a loss of 44.56 billion dollar, or 0.28 percent of its GDP. Besides rendering people out of work, the effect of pollution on people’s health also takes a toll in the form of high medical costs and an increase in out-of-pocket expenditure that pushes them into poverty. Data makes it amply clear that India has been falling short in its duty to protect its citizens from pollution threat. While there can be several causes contributing to air pollution, which may differ from country to country given each is at a different stage of its development, what is undeniable is that vehicular and dust pollution are significant contributors to the air-quality crisis. Our future generations may not be able to carry the burden of our inaction. The move to make a shift to eco-friendly building materials and techniques and electric vehicles, fraught as both are with major challenges, must be looked at seriously. Policies need to be formulated taking on board all stakeholders, resources allocated and infrastructure developed to meet these ends. Prevention of pollution must become a national priority.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer