NIFTY 50

Air pollution a national emergency? Experts discuss

Updated : May 15, 2019 09:14 PM IST

In this Lok Sabha election, the rhetoric for choosing a leader best fit to take care of our national security has been the loudest and the noisiest. However, what has received almost negligible attention is one of the biggest national security threats we face today, not from any external enemy or another country, but from the enemy within — ‘air pollution’.

New Delhi has broken the record for poor air quality this summer. On May 12, when people went out to cast their vote, recorded AQI or Air Quality Index in most parts of Delhi showed a 300 plus, which is just a notch below severe.

Here's what experts have to say about the deadly air pollution and where the issue stands in the Lok Sabha elections 2019.

Jyoti Pande Lavakare, co-founder of Care for Air: “The biggest problem is that there is still lack of awareness of how terrible and toxic the air is as we breathe it because it is an invisible problem and it affects in the longer term. So, people are not able to see it. Therefore, even when people know in an abstract way because there is a lot of research done around this, they do not understand that it is affecting them, their children, and their own parents.”

Polash Mukherjee, lead - Air Quality, Mobility & Climate Resilience at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) India: “When we talk about monitoring and we talk about action, a lot of the times the policymakers and the regulators use the lack of data to not take action. Lack of data is never an excuse to not take action. The Supreme Court has carried this principle in its orders many times.”

Neeraj Jain, chairman, Department of Chest Medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital: “I think the problem is complex and no one is willing to sit down and work out solutions. It is going to take time, but somebody needs to take the bull by the horns and get on with it.”

Sudhir Mishra, environmental lawyer: “The rural people who are the most affected... the traffic constables, the urban poor, the class 3 and class 4 employee, the drivers, etc., even they are not a priority for any political party? I filed an application for traffic police that they should be given masks and a kind of masks which can protect them. However, has anybody even thought of screening them properly, how badly they suffer?”
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