Reality check: South Asia is the most affected region in the world in terms of lost life-years due to poor air quality, reveals an extensive global study | Photo: Financial Express

Indians losing 5.2 years of life expectancy by inhaling polluted air, UP worst hit: Study

An average Indian loses 5.2 years of life expectancy to air pollution, while the average north Indian loses it by 8 years, concluded the study by Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), which used the 2018 pollution levels as a base. Life expectancy of an average person in Delhi is reduced by 9.4 years and those living in Lucknow by 10.3 years, the study stated. 

India ranked second on the global list in terms of lost life years behind Bangladesh, while Nepal, Pakistan and Singapore made up the top five on the list.

The study revealed that the top 14 most polluted districts in India were in Uttar Pradesh. Lucknow ranked as the most polluted district, while Delhi ranked the 15th-most polluted region in India. According to the study, India’s average 2018 air quality life index 63.2 ug/m3 was an improvement from the life expectancy lost in 2016, which was 6.1 years when the particulate pollution was at 71ug/m3.

Green court gives Indian government 2 months to finalise end-of-life vehicle scrapping policy 

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), India’s green court, has given two months to the central government to release policy guidelines on scrapping of the polluting end-of-life vehicles (ELV) and setting up authorised recycling centres compliant with environmental norms. 

The NGT said the government’s delay lacks sensitivity. The court also pointed out that the stand of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee shows that clandestine activities are still being found for which vigilance may be strengthened.

The number of ”end-of-life vehicles” will be over 21 million by 2025. Earlier, transport minister Nitin Gadkari had blamed the delay on the requirement of taking approvals from different departments and state governments. He had said a scrapping policy will allow recycling through industrial clusters, which will help the industry reduce imports and cost.

Study: Mumbai lost 42.5% urban green cover over 30 yrs, land-surface temp increased three-fold 

Mumbai’s urban green cover dropped by more than 42.5% in the past 30 years, according to a study published in peer-reviewed journal Springer Nature. In 1988, of Mumbai’s total area of 63,035 hectares (ha), the green cover was 29,260 ha, which has fallen to 16,814 ha in 2018.

Scientists used Landsat-5 and Landsat-8 multi-temporal satellite images provided by the United States Geological Survey to assess land use land cover (LULC) changes, land surface temperature (LST), proportion of vegetation, and other parameters for Mumbai during spring (March-April) over 30 years. The loss of the trees and increase in built-up area led to a three-fold increase in land surface temperature (LST), according to the study. Experts said the LULC changes have altered the micro-climate of the city’s urban ecosystem.

Mumbai’s tree census, completed in 2018, however, identified 2.975 million trees, over 1 million more than in 2008. Campaigners, however, said the census data is suspicious. 

Mumbai to get India’s 1st low-cost air monitoring study in Nov

Mumbai will conduct a first-of-its-kind hyper-local air pollution monitoring in the country using low-cost sensor-based technology. The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to install low-cost sensors across 15 locations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) to accurately measure the harmful pollutant concentration in the air.

Professor SN Tripathi of IIT-K, who is heading the National Clean Air Programme, said the idea was to check the stability and accuracy of low-cost sensors. He said the scientists will assess how low-cost sensors measure pollutants, stability of calibration models and the final use for hyper-local monitoring.

Manual monitors cost ₹8 lakh per station per annum, while the continuous ones cost ₹1.5 crore per station every year.  Experts said low-cost monitors cost ₹50,000 to ₹2 lakh (including maintenance), based on the number of pollutants they measure. 

SC contempt warning brings IIT-Bombay U-turn on NCR smog tower project, experts call the move wasteful

Following a warning of contempt notice from the Supreme Court over backing out after agreeing to install a smog tower, IIT-Bombay signed a fresh MoU with the government to install a smog tower in Anand Vihar bus terminal, one of the most polluted regions in the National Capital Region. Helped by the University of Minnesota and IIT-Delhi, the installation may take another 10 months to complete. 

Experts have called smog towers “highly unscientific”, and a “waste of taxpayers money”. The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) said the move is unfeasible as it will take 2.5 million such towers to clean Delhi’s air. That money can be used to clean up thermal power plants that refuse to install technology to cut emissions, experts said.

Experts also pointed out that no government is using smog towers as a regulatory measure, and only private entities are installing them. A citizens’ group called Jhatkaa has been running a campaign against smog towers since March 2020, giving the science and rationale behind it.

Land acquisition issues halt pipeline of cleaner CNG to arrive in Kolkata 

The supply of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) eludes Kolkata as the project is in a limbo over land acquisition issues at a stretch between West Bengal’s Durgapur and Kolkata, which is hampering the work on a 858-kilometre-long pipeline, according to an affidavit filed in the NGT by Gas Authority of India (GAIL) Ltd, the Union government’s nodal agency for CNG.

According to GAIL, the work on a 166-km-long section of the pipeline from Durgapur to Hansagara (Hooghly) and Kolkata can only begin after acquisition of the Right of Usage (RoU). The pipeline is designed to pass through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and will end in Kolkata. The tribunal is expected to hear the case by the end of August. Experts pointed out that Kolkata immediately needs CNG to replace polluting diesel vehicles. Almost 95% of commercial vehicles in the city run on diesel.

China raises $12 billion anti-pollution fund in phase 1

As part of its first dedicated environmental fund, China has raised US$12.59 billion in its first phase to fight water, air and soil pollution. China’s environment minister Huang Runqiu said the fund will back the ‘green transformation’ of the economy and strengthen the role of the market in fighting pollution.

Over the past four years, the Chinese government allocated US$13.96 billion (97.4 billion Yuan) on air pollution. According to Zou Shoumin, a director responsible for finance at China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), China will continue backing anti-air pollution programmes, as the government plans to  coordinate the treatment of ozone pollution and PM2.5 simultaneously.

‘Badvertising’: Ban aggressive ads of polluting SUVs, demands UK campaign

Aggressive ads are pushing up sales of polluting big SUVs and jeopardising climate targets hence such ads should be curbed just like the ads promoting smoking — that’s the demand by an anti-pollution campaign called ‘Badvertising’, which is gaining strength in the UK. The campaign demanded an immediate end to ads promoting cars with average emissions of over 160g CO2/km, and those exceeding 4.8m in length.

Experts said sales of big polluting cars will breach UK climate targets, and should be banned as the government is developing an ambitious transport decarbonisation plan to reach net zero by 2050. According to a report by green think-tank The New Weather Institute and climate charity Possible, SUVs make up more than 4 in 10 new cars sold in the UK, and the trend towards big cars is propelled by aggressive advertising. Their report found that 150,000 new cars on the road are too big for a standard UK street parking space.

About The Author