In recent years, air pollution has become one of the deadliest dilemmas of the modern era; yet it is being largely overlooked across the globe. India is one of the most affected countries with 14 of the 15 most polluted cities in the world. The “State of Global Air 2019” study indicates that 1.2 million Indians died in a year due to complications arising from air pollution, making it the third biggest cause of death in the country. However, little is being done to tackle this menace. The capital city of Delhi is the most affected one and the baby steps being taken as of now are not making much of a difference. The city witnessed zero good air quality days in the year 2018 and has grabbed several eyeballs internationally.
The major sources of air pollution arise from vehicular emissions and industrial emissions. The number of vehicles is rising at such an alarming rate that every city, big or small, is suffocating for the lack of clean air and space. Public transportation should be encouraged by limiting the number of vehicles per household and penalizing offenders. The country must adopt electronic vehicles for public transportation which would limit the emissions up to an extent.
Respiratory diseases are not the only major consequences of air pollution, the poisonous smoke is gradually engulfing our organs and seeping into our brain cells. According to a comprehensive global review, diseases like dementia and brain strokes have been linked to air pollution.
WHO has deemed air pollution as a “public health emergency“ but humans are still negligent towards it. It is a global catastrophe and requires that all nations work together to lessen the damage. The United Nations Environment Programme should enforce stringent rules and make sure that all the countries are adhering to them. The use of renewable energy should be encouraged and vehicles and factories with high carbon footprint should be regulated. Defaulters should be penalized with heavy sanctions.
According to the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries have argued that developed nations have already contributed enough to the global air pollution and developing countries can’t jeopardize their development based on this. However, we are forgetting that this is not a national calamity but a global epidemic which is going to affect everyone eventually. The Indian government must realize that its nonchalance towards the problem is affecting the health of its citizens severely. As citizens too, we should be held equally responsible to do our part and take minor steps so that the concerned authorities act quickly.
Quality air is not a privilege or luxury, it is our right which is being denied to us. The country is suffocating in its own toxins and it is high time that the government took notice and actually did something!