According to the analysis in 2022, the average annual PM 2.5 level was 46.4 microgrammes in rural India almost the same as the urban level of 46.8 microgrammes.

PM 2.5 pollution in cities, villages almost the same: Study

A Climate Trends analysis of 2022 satellite-based data generated by IIT Delhi scientists revealed that the annual average of the most toxic air pollutant, ultrafine particulate matter (PM) 2.5, was as poor in rural India as urban India. This has put under scanner the Centre’s policy of only investing in selected urban areas of the country for controlling toxic air  According to the analysis in 2022, the average annual PM 2.5 level was 46.4 microgrammes in rural India almost the same as the urban level of 46.8 microgrammes. The national limit is 40 microgrammes. 

The report showed that the urban and rural levels of PM 2.5 in India since 2017 shows almost similar pollution concentration.  The National Clean Air Plan (NCAP), which was announced in 2019 till date, released around Rs9,000 crore mainly for 131 cities — called non-attainment ones — consistently going above the national air pollution limits. However, most rural areas do not have even any on-ground pollution measuring mechanism.

The report stated the NCAP was designed as a programme to address the high levels of air pollution across India’s urban centres. Air pollution is a transboundary problem that knows no borders. There is an urgent need to track pollution levels and develop policies for rural regions, as there is little difference in concentration levels between urban and rural areas. The study was covered widely in the media including in TOI and Down to Earth. 

Drop in air pollution during 2020 COVID 19 lockdowns slowed Himalayan meltdown: Study

According to a new study, a decrease in air pollution in India during the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the melting of snow in the Himalayas,  Lockdowns brought the business to a halt, particulate matter dropped that stopped over 27 million tonnes of snow and ice from melting compared to 2019, the report published in the journal PNAS Nexus showed. The researchers used satellite data to track the impact on snowmelt during the two-month nationwide lockdown in 2020. The study assessed that changes in Himalayan RFSLAPs (influence of human activities on radiative forcing on snow) is linked to the Indian lockdown. Differences between the RFSLAPs in 2020 and the average from 2017-2019 over the Tibetan Plateau  was calculated. 

NO2 can lead to premature death: Study 

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) can lead to premature death from respiratory and circulatory illness, new research confirmed. NO2 pollution can also impact  people living with respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, stated the review commissioned by Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). The European agency said NO2 exposure can lead to respiratory and circulatory premature death (from both short- and long-term exposure), to the development of asthma in children and adults, to bronchitis in children. The research suggested improving air quality indices to include information on health risks and vulnerable groups & alerts on NO2 peak pollution levels.

States and UTs fined about 80,000 crore so far on states for not disposing of sewage and garbage

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) fined about Rs80,000 crore on states and Union territories (UT) so far over non-compliance of sewage treatment and garbage disposal rules and for violating orders, Down to Earth reported. The NGT said there is a huge gap in the treatment of sewage and disposal of solid waste by states and UTs: 26,000 million litres per day (MLD) of liquid waste and 56,000 tonnes per day of solid waste are not being properly disposed of. Also, 180 million tonnes of legacy waste have not been disposed of by states. 

The highest fine was slapped on Tamil Nadu at Rs15,419.71 crore, followed by Maharashtra at Rs12,000 crore, Madhya Pradesh at Rs9,688 crore and Uttar Pradesh at Rs5,000 crore, the report said.

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