THE AIR AFFAIR

By Vasundhara Pande

(11/11/2020 15:30IST)

It is 2020 and pollution isn’t ready to leave the air alone with love. Jokes apart, we are the matchmakers (something really serious)! Unlike any other article on air pollution, I won’t add its definition because the purpose of a definition is to let the reader know about its significance. But, we as Indians are already experiencing it. From people avoiding long morning walks to many commuters wearing face masks before it was mandatory, from hearing jokes on air pollution to seeing people burning crackers on Diwali, I being a resident of NEW DELHI have experienced them all.

Every year the PM (Particulate Matter) increases significantly and so does our ignorance. To cite a not so beautiful example, recently an advertisement video by Tanishq was given a controversial aspect forcing the company to remove it. To begin with, Sayani Gupta in the ad says, “I’m hoping to be able to meet my mum after really long. Definitely no firecrackers. I don’t think anyone should light any firecrackers. Lot of diyas. Lot of laughter hopefully, and lots of positivity.” To which BJP National General Secretary C.T. Ravi tweeted. Why should anyone advise Hindus how to celebrate Our Festivals? Companies must focus on selling their products, not lecture us to refrain from bursting Crackers” (corona se ek baar phir bhi lad leinge, dharam ki ladai se kaise bacheinge?)

State of Global Air 2020 produced yearly by the Health Effects Institute and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME’s) Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project; dealing primarily with 2019 data estimated that about 4,76,000 infants across the world succumbed due to exposure to air pollution in 2019. “Infants born in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (the Indian subcontinent) have the highest rates of neonatal death attributable to air pollution, from 9,000 to 13,100 per 100,000 live births,” the report mentioned.

India has one of the highest death rates due to PM 2.5, with 96 deaths per 1,00,000 people due to it, the report said. While China is at 81 deaths, countries like Germany (13), the US (8.5), Canada (5.4) and Norway (3.8) rank far lower.

In terms of deaths attributed to ozone concentrations, India registered an 84% increase as well, with over 76,000 such deaths. The study also factored in the effect COVID-19 had on air pollution, saying that closed down factories and no cars on the streets only offered “temporary respite”.

I have heard from my elders “hawa kharaab hain” long before I knew about air pollution but now, I think they were talking about the current scenario and I totally believe them and so should you.

A study by the Chennai Climate Action Group of six large and red-category polluting industries in the Manali and Ennore regions has revealed that none of them complied with air pollution norms. The report said the thermal power plant cluster in Ennore operated in violation of the air pollution norms for 49% of the year and the petrochemical cluster in Manali 26% of the year.

A recent Harvard study stated that an increase in PM 2.5 in pollution can lead to an 8% increase in COVID-19 Death rate. Now, those of you who can read this can use their minds too(-hopefully) and not burst crackers because “hawa hain toh aap hain.”

About Authors.

Vasundhara Pande

Editor In Chief, INARA

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