No more on priority? Tackling air pollution seems to have fallen away from the “mission” status it was accorded when India’s NCAP was announced | Image: CTVNews

Budget 2019 ignores “Blue sky” policy vision? Air pollution buried in budget

The National Clean Air Plan (NCAP), bundled along with other pollution control programmes such as water and ambient noise pollution monitoring, has been allotted Rs460 crore – indicating marginal or no change compared to last year’s outlay. Environmentalists are surprised that India’s new Union Budget 2019 has no explicit mention of air pollution as a budgetary head. During elections in May, the ruling party promised to implement the National Clean Air Plan (NCAP) on a ‘mission’ mode to cut air pollution by 35% in the next five years. The stagnation of funds to tackle air pollution has been seen by experts as not helpful to the government’s goal of a “pollution-free India” and “Blue skies”.

Minister rejects air pollution’s link with early deaths as “extrapolation”

Indian government acknowledged that ozone was the main pollutant in Delhi for 95 days over the last three years. India’s Environment minister Prakash Javdekar informed the Parliament about the findings but he rejected the latest reports linking air pollution and rising ozone levels with death of children saying there was no data to prove it. The minister said air pollution may cause respiratory ailments but studies linking it with mortality were “simulations and extrapolations”.

India’s green court issues notice to Haryana over polluting fly ash at 2 coal plants 

India’s green court came down hard on two thermal power plants in Jhajjar, Haryana, and served a month’s ultimatum to the government to file a report on polluting fly ash at the plants, and how it plans to dispose it off. The court also ordered the state pollution control board to monitor air quality in the region and submit a report within a month. 

Polluter pays: UP govt to crackdown on illegal brick kilns in Delhi NCR

Brick kilns, one of the major contributors to air pollution, continues to flourish illegally in the National Capital Region (NCR). India’s green court, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to act against brick kilns operating illegally in the Modinagar Muradnagar area of NCR. The UP government has assured the court it will initiate action of recovering compensation based on the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle within the next three months.

Indian metros brimming with pollutant nitrogen oxide: Greenpeace

Latest study by Greenpeace says at least six Indian metros have dangerous levels of air pollutant Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), which is formed after different gases in the atmosphere react in sunlight and high temperature. The NGO study said Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad have high vehicular presence and diesel consumption and they are also hotspots of nitrogen oxide. The data from February 2018 to May 2019 also revealed NOx emissions in the coal clusters of Sonbhadra-Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Korba in Chattisgarh, Talcher in Odisha, Chandrapur in Maharashtra, Mundra in Gujarat and Durgapur in West Bengal, the study said.

China’s new rules curb industries in pollution-stressed regions

China has ordered local governments to raise approval limits for setting up new industrial projects and reject industry projects in the regions where air and water pollution is already high. The local governments will have to prepare “access lists” where factories can be built. Limiting the number of polluting factories will impact energy-intensive sectors like steel, metal refining, petroleum and petrochemicals, Reuters reported.

Jakarta residents to sue government over air pollution

Residents of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta have battled the world’s filthiest air for nearly two weeks last June, so much so that they have decided to sue the country’s president, governors and ministers for inaction. Over 30 complainants, including activists, civil servants, artists, and business owners have decided to move court this month. However, the chief of the Jakarta environmental agency has rejected the June data, saying the government “doesn’t really respond to real-time data”.

Asians, African-Americans breathing 66% more killer air than whites: US study

According to latest analysis, people of colour breathe 66% more toxic air than white residentsin the American north-east and mid-Atlantic. The study from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says on average, African Americans are exposed to 61% more PM 2.5 particles that come from burning gasoline. Asian Americans breathe 73% more and Latinos 75% more. PM 2.5 particles are small enough to enter the bloodstream and are linked to lung and heart diseases, asthma and premature death. The study collated 2014 data from the Environmental Protection Agency with 2018 data from the US Census Bureau to compare communities to a pollution average. The research once again reaffirmed the pattern campaigners call “environmental racism”.

Indoor air pollution in India linked to increased hypertension risk in women: Study

Women are at greater risk of high blood pressure because of higher levels of indoor air pollution in India, says a new study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). Based on the blood pressure samples of 5,531 adults from 28 peri-urban villages near Hyderabad city, 46% participants were identified as hypertensive, and most of them with undiagnosed and untreated hypertension. Researchers measured systolic and diastolic blood pressure of participants and correlated them with estimated annual residential exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and black carbon. The men in the sample showed a weaker link because they spent 57% of their time in their homes compared to 83% of the time women stayed home everyday. 

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