Curbing air pollution in India needs efforts across South Asia: WB report

Source: The post is based on the article “Curbing air pollution in India needs efforts across South Asia: WB report” published in The Hindu on 15th December 2022

What is the News?

The World Bank has released a report titled “Striving for Clean Air: Air Pollution and Public Health in South Asia”.

What are the key findings of the report?

Air Pollution in South Asia: South Asia is home to 9 of the world’s 10 cities with the worst air pollution.

Currently, over 60% of South Asians are exposed to an average 35 µg/m3 of PM2.5 annually. In some parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) it spiked to as much as 100 µg/m3 – nearly 20 times the upper limit of 5 µg/m3 recommended by the World Health Organisation,

Exposure to such extreme air pollution has impacts ranging from stunting and reduced cognitive development in children to respiratory infections and chronic and debilitating diseases. This drives up healthcare costs, lowers a country’s productive capacity, and leads to lost days worked.

What are the recommendations given by the report to reduce air pollution in South Asia?

Airsheds in South Asia: Air pollution travels long distances— crossing municipal, state, and national boundaries—and gets trapped in large “airsheds” that are shaped by climatology and geography. 

India has six large airsheds, some of them shared with Pakistan, between which air pollutants move. 

For instance, when the wind direction was predominantly northwest to southeast, 30% of the air pollution in Indian Punjab came from the Punjab Province in Pakistan and on average, 30% of the air pollution in the largest cities of Bangladesh (Dhaka, Chittagong, and Khulna) originated in India. 

ThiCurbing air pollution in India needs efforts across South Asia: WB reporteans that even if Delhi were to fully implement all air pollution control measures by 2030 while other parts of South Asia continued to follow current policies, it wouldn’t keep pollution exposure below 35 µg/m3. 

However, if other parts of South Asia also adopted all feasible measures it would bring pollution below that number. 

Hence, based on these findings the report recommends India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries establish a dialogue on air pollution to tackle it with an ‘airshed approach’. 

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