10 Facts About Pollution In India
The World Environment Day is the biggest global celebration for positive environmental action, coordinated by United Nations Environment Programme every year on June 5. It is a day that reminds everyone on the planet to get involved in environment-friendly activities. From school children to community groups, companies and governments, all come together to pledge towards building a greener planet.
This year’s World Environment Day theme is: “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care” – focussing on conscious consumption, food waste, water conservation, and energy consumption patterns.
India, which is the world's No. 3 emitter of greenhouse gases, has been under pressure to make commitments after the top two emitters - China and the United States - agreed to new limits on carbon emissions starting in 2025. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signalled he will not bow to foreign pressure and will instead focus on increased use of clean energy to fight the adverse effects of climate change. He wants to quintuple India's renewable energy capacity by 2022.
Modi planted a sapling at his official residence 7, Race Course Road on World Environment Day. Cricketers Sachin Tendulkar, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, along with environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar and Maharashtra Minister for Primary, Higher and Technical and Medical Education and Culture Vinod Tawde will plant saplings in Mumbai at Joggers Park on Carter Road in the evening today.
Here are 10 things about pollution in India
1) India's high air pollution, ranked by the World Health Organisation among the worst in the world, is adversely impacting the lifespan of its citizens, reducing most Indian lives by over three years, a new study has said.
2) Over half of India's population – 660 million people – live in areas where fine particulate matter pollution is above India's standards for what is considered safe, said the study by economists from the University of Chicago, Harvard and Yale published in this week's 'Economic & Political Weekly'.
3) Of the world’s top 20 polluted cities, 13 are in India compared to just three in China. Air pollution slashes life expectancy by 3.2 years for the 660 million Indians who live in cities, including Delhi. In China, the corresponding dip is marginally lower at three years, according to a report in The Hindustan Times.
4) In 2014, a global analysis of how nations tackle environmental challenges has ranked India 155 among 178 nations and labelled the country’s air quality among the worst in the world, tying it with China in exposing its population to hazardous air pollution.
5) The Environmental Performance Index 2014, generated by researchers at Yale University in the US, has bracketed India among “bottom performers” on several indicators such as environmental health impact, air quality, water and sanitation. Although India is an emerging market alongside Brazil, China, Russia and South Africa, its environment severely lags behind these others,” Angel Hsu, the lead author of the report at Yale University said.
6) The Ganga and Yamuna are ranked among the world’s 10 most polluted rivers. China has just one. An evaluation in February ranked Vapi in Gujarat and Sukinda in Odisha among the 10 most environmentally-degraded zones in the world. China had no entries on the list.
7) Mindless concretisation of ground and green belts and booming real estate has led to heat island effect which is burning the Capital as short-wave radiations emanate from concrete surfaces at night time. Concretisation prevents ground water recharge thus depleting green cover. Tall buildings also block winds thereby reducing their cooling effect. Excessive concretisation also leads to weakening of trees.
8) Despite the directives of the National Green Tribunal, civic agencies continue to allow concretisation in green belts. Massive green cover is destroyed in the name of development. Booming real estate and demand for housing units is leading to change of land use and shrinkage of natural conservation zones such as forests, water bodies, wastelands, sanctuaries, groundwater rechargeable areas, Aravallis and wetlands in the National Capital Region including Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
9) A 2015 report by the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based NGO, says the decline in the country's overall environmental standards was because of river pollution, which is worse now than it was three decades ago, piling garbage in cities and increasingly toxic urban air.
10) According to a report in The Economic Times citing research by environmental economists from Chicago, Harvard and Yale that finds that well over half of the Indian population may be set to lose three years of their lives due to the adverse effects of breathing air with highly excessive levels of pollutants. It has been known for some time that the air that people breathe in Indian cities is among the worst in the world.
The environmental crisis in India is many-sided and multi-faceted. It has to be addressed on different fronts and by a variety of different actors. We need to harness scientific and social-scientific expertise to develop and promote eco-friendly technologies in energy, water management, housing, and transportation. Scientific innovation needs to be complemented by legislative change as well as by changes in social behaviour, writes noted historian Ramachandra Guha in The Telegrah.
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