Underlining India’s commitment to green growth, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has launched India’s first Air Quality Index in New Delhi. He noted that although India’s contribution to the world’s pollution level was one of the lowest (given one of the lowest per capita emission rates at 1.7 metric tonnes per capita, as opposed to China’s 6.2 mtpc, and USA 17.6 mtpc), the issue of climate change and pollution control was a serious one, and life style changes, along with switching to cleaner fuel was the need of the hour.
Speaking at the inauguration of two-day conference of State Ministers of Environment and Forest on April 6, a platform for discussing and launching India’s future environmental policies, he said that “we are trying to think of ways of reducing carbon emissions, but we are not thinking of changing our lifestyle. Unless we bring a change in our lifestyle, we will not be able to save the environment”. He added thatour cultural values imbibe respect for nature early on, and the West should not to lecture us about climate change when they do not fulfil their responsibility of making options for cleaner energy available to us.
The new index, which is to cover 10 cities initially, (Delhi, Faridabad, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore), is expected to expand to 66 cities in the coming years. Each of these cities shall have a monitoring station with Air Quality Index on the board. The index will inform people about the air quality in their respective cities, and aid in spreading public awareness about the issue.
A 2014 report released by the World Health Organization, in which about 1600 cities were evaluated, stated that New Delhi had the world’s dirtiest air quality and that 13 of the dirtiest 20 cities in the world are in India. Delhi’s air pollution is comparable to that in Beijing. China has been struggling to instate measures for curbing the perpetual smog in Beijing, a major domestic concern.
According to the WHO, air pollution is the single biggest environment risk on the planet, as it killed approximately seven million people in 2012, and a staggering 627,000 Indians are dying every year due to pollution with several thousand developing chronic respiratory illnesses and other health problems.
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