Delhi NCR’s Toxic Air Claims 7 Million Lives Annually: Alarming Pollution Stats

According to the WHO report, the air in Delhi and the atmosphere are filled with hazardous particulate matter that poses a significant risk to people’s lives. This is causing the residents here to fall victim to conditions like stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, severe respiratory ailments, and chronic lung diseases, resulting in nearly 7 million premature deaths due to air pollution annually. India, especially, faces the highest risks.

Delhi’s air is declared the most polluted, particularly in the early mornings, creating extremely adverse conditions not only in Delhi but also in other areas of the National Capital Region (NCR), including Gurugram, Noida, and beyond. Even on a Tuesday, air quality indices in Delhi and the surrounding regions recorded extremely high levels. Delhi’s Dwarka area, in particular, registered an AQI of 303, which is highly dangerous as it consistently leads to increased numbers of premature deaths caused by air pollution each year.

Air Pollution Causing Millions of Deaths Annually

Especially in India, air pollution is a significant concern. According to a report by Boston College’s Global Observatory on Pollution, in 2019, over 1.6 million people in India died due to air pollution alone, accounting for 18% of the global total. This places India ahead of other countries, even surpassing China. This research was also featured in the Lancet Planetary Health Journal.

Biomass Responsible for Air Pollution

According to the Environment Department, the major contributor to air pollution in Delhi before Diwali is biomass. On October 21, the pollution in Delhi contributed 21.5% to air pollution. By October 24, this figure had risen to 32.7%.

Furthermore, vehicle emissions and construction activities are also significant contributors to air pollution. As per the Environment Department, the concentration of PM 2.5 increases during the colder months due to slow wind speeds and a rise in air pollution. The situation may worsen in the coming days.

Delhi Government’s Action Plan

The Delhi government has implemented GRAP Stage II to combat pollution. Under this plan, public transportation services have been increased in the city. Instructions have been issued to reduce the time interval between metro trains to 7-8 minutes, which has now been reduced to 5-6 minutes and even 2-3 minutes at peak hours. Private buses are also charging higher fares.

Environment Minister Gopal Rai has made significant decisions to address this issue. The Graded Response Action Plan has been extended to the next category, where special teams have been deployed to regions with AQI exceeding specified limits. Efforts to curb pollution include water sprinkling with chemicals to settle dust particles.

Niyati Rao

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