Air Pollution in India

Context: US President has criticised India’s air quality.

What is the state of air pollution in India?

The State of Global Air that is a collaborative study of Health Effect Institute and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation of Global Burden of Disease Project has presented that:

  • PM 2.5 Concentration: India recorded the highest annual average PM 2.5 concentration exposure in 2019.India was followed by Nepal, Niger, Qatar and Nigeria.
  • Household Air Pollution: India has managed to reduce the number of people exposed to household air pollution to 61% from 73%.
  • Ozone(O3) Exposure: Among the 20 most populous countries, India recorded the highest increase (17%) in O3 concentrations in the past ten years.

What steps have India taken to combat air pollution?

  • National Clean Air Programme: It aims to meet prescribed annual average ambient standards at all locations in the country in a stipulated timeframe. It calls for:
    • Augmentation of existing air quality monitoring network by increasing number of existing manual and continuous monitoring stations,
    • introducing rural monitoring stations,
    • identifying alternative technology for real-time monitoring network
    • augmenting capabilities of existing monitoring stations to measure PM2.5 concentration
    • national-level emission inventory
  • Launch of National Air Quality index (AQI):
    • The AQI classifies air quality of a day considering criteria pollutants through colour codes and air quality descriptor. Further, it also links air quality with likely human health impacts.
    • The index measures eight major pollutants, namely, particulate matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, ammonia and lead.
  • Measures to curb vehicular pollution: In March 2017, the Supreme Court banned the sale of BS III vehicles in the country. The court ordered that from April 1, 2017 onwards only BS IV would be registered in India The Indian government BS-VI norms from 2020.
  • Measures to curb indoor air pollution: The government launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna to replace unclean cooking fuels used in the most underprivileged households with clean and more efficient LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). A major objective of the scheme is to ensure smoke-free houses and thus curb indoor air pollution.
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