By Bhasker Tripathi
Provide the public with regular information about polluters and fine industries for emissions that exceed legal limits.
These are two of five “evidence-based” recommendations to tackle air pollution across India, according to a 2018 policy brief prepared by researchers of the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago (EPIC) and Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) programme at the Harvard Kennedy School in Boston.
The other three: Stop industries from paying supposedly independent laboratories to audit their smokestacks, provide regulators with real-time emissions data and allow industries to trade their emissions, said the brief, released on August 16, 2018.
More than 660 million Indians live in areas that exceed the country’s standard (40 µg/m3 annual and 60 µg/m3 for 24 hours) for particulate matter (PM) 2.5, airborne particles 30 times finer than a human hair that can sicken or kill people by entering the lungs.
Indians would live a year longer if India were to achieve its national air quality standards; life expectancy would increase by four years if India could meet pollution standards–10 µg/m3, or three times tighter–set by the World Health Organization (WHO), said the brief.
“Some of the greatest gains would be seen in the country’s largest cities such as Delhi,” said the policy brief adding that similar gains are expected across the Indo-Gangetic plain, including in the rural areas. “There, people would live six years longer if air quality met the national standards.”
In 2015, only one in 1,000 Indians lived in areas where particulate pollution did not exceed WHO annual safe levels for PM 2.5 of 10 µg/m3 , IndiaSpend reported on January 18, 2018.
In 2015, as many as 1.09 million deaths in India were attributed to PM 2.5 pollution, our report said.
“Air pollution is causing hundreds of millions of people in India to lead shorter and sicker lives,” said Michael Greenstone, co-author of the policy brief, in a university release. He is the Milton Friedman professor in economics and the director of EPIC and the Tata Centre for Development at the University of Chicago.
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