It’s no secret that the increase in air pollution has taken an extraordinary toll on both the quality and longevity of life in India. Nine of the ten most polluted cities in the world are in India. And, according to a recent report from the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago (EPIC), air pollution shortens human life expectancy in Delhi by ten years. This report also confirms that in addition to the Indo-Gangetic plain being the most polluted region in the world, with its air quality failing to meet World Health Organisation guidelines, the average Indian will lose five years of life expectancy as a result.
How can we best tackle air particulate pollution?
The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) shows that particulate matter (PM) pollution reduces life expectancy more than communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, and behavioural killers, such as cigarette smoking, and, in some cases, even war.
An Indian economy that doesn’t produce polluting emissions is the only way forward. A zero emissions India must be treated with the same sense of urgency and mass mobilization as would a respiratory pathogen threatening our survival, because that’s what this requires.