Air pollution in Delhi: There will be an average decrease of 7.6 years in life expectancy for over half a billion individuals from Punjab to West Bengal.
According to the latest Air Quality Life Index from the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago, Delhi is the most polluted city in the world. Air pollution their cuts lives short by almost 10 years, while in Lucknow it cuts lives short by 9.5 years (EPIC).
Air Quality Life Index from the Energy Policy Institute stated
Air pollution in Delhi: This is a pollution index that shows how the amount of particulate pollution in the air affects how long people live. The area with the most pollution is the Indo-Gangetic Plain (see image below). The report says that if pollution stays at its current level, the average life expectancy of more than 500 million people from Punjab to West Bengal will drop by 7.6 years.
This means that air pollution is more dangerous than smoking, which cuts life expectancy by 1.5 years, and malnutrition in children and mothers, which cuts life expectancy by 1.8 years.
The country India is the second most polluted country in the world
Air pollution in Delhi: India is the second most polluted country in the world, after Bangladesh. However, the huge Indo-Gangetic Plain is more polluted than India, with PM 2.5 levels of 76.2 micrograms/cubic meter in 2020, compared to 75.8 ug/m3 in India. India’s average PM 2.5 level is much lower, at 56.8 micrograms/cubic meter. If you take north India out of the equation, the rest of India’s PM 2.5 level drops to under 40 micrograms/cubic meter.
The PM 2.5 levels in Delhi were measured at 107.6, which is more than ten times the WHO’s safe limit of 5. PM2.5 is made up of very small particles that are toxic and settle deep in the lungs and other organs, where they can’t be stopped by the body’s defenses.
Air pollution continued to rise in India in 2020
Air pollution in Delhi: The people who wrote the report say that it is the biggest threat to global health, and that the risks start as early as the foetus stage. Even with the lockdown, air pollution continued to rise in India in 2020. This cut the average life expectancy in India by five years, compared to the average of 2.2 years for the rest of the world. This is a crisis all over South Asia, as levels are also going up in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
It’s easy to see why. In the last 20 years or so, there have been three to four times as many cars and coal-fired power plants in the area as there were before. This is made worse by burning crops, making bricks, and other industrial activities.
The Director of AQLI, Dr. Christa Hasenkopf, explains
Air pollution in Delhi: During this time, India’s pollution from small particles has grown quickly. EPIC’s report says that the average amount of particulate pollution has gone up by 61.4% every year since 1998.
Since 2013, about 44% of the rise in pollution around the world has come from India. The Director of AQLI, Dr. Christa Hasenkopf, explains how. “From 2013 to 2020, the amount of PM2.5 in the world went down. But if you look at countries that grew during that time and figure out how much they grew on average, India makes up a big part of that growth, which is what this statistic is talking about. India has a big effect on the average pollution levels around the world based on the number of people living there”.
China has cut its emissions by almost 40% since 2013
Air pollution in Delhi: By the way, China has cut its emissions by almost 40% since 2013. But, as the report says, a lot of this success came from a “command and control” playbook that doesn’t usually think about how to reach their goals for the least amount of money.
Air pollution isn’t much of a political issue in India outside of the winter, when pollution is at its worst. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been anything going on. There have been a lot of agencies and plans, like CPCB, EPCA, GRAP, NCAP, etc., and the most recent one is CAQM, which is a powerful body that took steps last winter, like shutting down coal-fired power plants, to reduce pollution in the Capital.