Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington has revealed that India and China account for more than half of the world’s premature deaths due to air pollution. The report says in 2015 globally, there was 60 per cent rise in ozone attributable deaths, with a striking 67 per cent of this increase occurring in India.
It finds that since 1990, the absolute number of ozone-related deaths has risen at an alarming rate in India — by about 150 per cent — while in China, some European nations and Russia, the number has remained stable. Measured per head of population, India substantially outpaces China, with 14.7 ozone-related deaths for every 100,000 people, compared with China’s 5.9.
The report found that increasing exposure and a growing and aging population have meant that while 11,08,100 deaths were attributed to PM2.5 exposure in China in 2015, in India, it was 10,90,400. Around 92 per cent of the world’s population lives in areas with ‘unhealthy’ air, according to the report which has painted a picture that is terribly alarming. The report says that increases in exposure, combined with those in population growth and aging, resulted in net increases in attributable mortality in China, India, Bangladesh, and Japan.
In addition, the absolute number of deaths in India attributed to fine particulate matter in the air were approaching China’s toll in 2015 and probably exceed that figure by now, according to Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute. An increase in vehicle traffic, emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industrial facilities, and fires fuelled by wood and dung contribute to the problem. When calculated per 100,000 of population, the number in both countries has decreased, although India’s remains far above China’s.
According to a WHO report late last year, 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India. The country’s capital Delhi was 11th in the world list. This is as shocking as could be but governments at the Centre and in States are typically unconcerned.