By Pankaj Yadav
India accounts for nearly 25 percent of the global deaths due to air pollution, even as nearly 61,000 children aged under-5 died in 2016 due to their exposure to PM 2.5, revealed a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the report, among the under-5 aged deaths, around 33,000 were girls and about 28,000 were boys. Also, the country witnessed deaths of around 4,360 children in the age group of 5-14 during the same year.
In terms of deaths of kids due to air pollution (PM 2.5), India was followed by Nigeria with 47,674 such deaths, Pakistan with 21,136 deaths and Democratic Republic of Congo with 12,890 such deaths.
The report titled “Air Pollution and Child Health: Prescribing Clean Air,” found that more than 90 percent of the children in the world breathe toxic air every day, and around 600,000 children are feared to have died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.
Air pollution continues to remain a prime concern in India, even as the air quality in the country’s capital city Delhi has remained in the “very poor” category over the past couple of days, and the situation is feared to worsen as winter set in and farmers continue to burn stubble in neighboring states of Haryana and Punjab.
The other factors leading to air pollution in Delhi are the irresponsible construction activities and the vehicular pollution.
According to the data released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the overall air quality index of 367 was recorded on Monday which falls in the “very poor” category.
It is understood that the prevailing meteorological conditions over Delhi were presently not favorable for dispersal of air pollutants over the next couple of days particularly due to low wind speed, as a thick haze of smog continued to cover the Indian capital.
Meanwhile, in a strict measure to curb air pollution in Delhi, the country’s apex court, the Supreme Court of India, on Monday directed the Transport Departments of Delhi and the neighboring states not to allow petrol vehicles more than 15 years old and diesel vehicles more than 10 years old, to ply on the roads.
In a related development, the government of Delhi’s neighboring state Haryana has resolved to a five-point agenda to fight air pollution, such as sprinkling water on roads, mechanized sweeping of roads, preventing traffic congestion, ban on burning of garbage, and prevent overloaded and polluting vehicles.
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