Greens decry MPs apathy for air pollution

Update: 2019-04-25 19:29 GMT

In the midst of elections, environmentalists have flagged concerns over "patchy recognition of the problem of unhealthy air" by MPs over the past five years, particularly those representing the cities and towns that figure in WHOs list of most polluted cities.

The environmentalists say elected representatives must take "proactive steps" to address such issues.

However, environmentalists also saw a silver lining in the major political parties mentioning air pollution in their manifestos and lauded the Centre for at least formulating the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

A recent report - Political Leaders' Position and Action on Air Quality 2014-19 - complied by Climate Trends, a communications strategy initiative, showed that MPs were not proactive in addressing air quality issues in their respective constituencies.

"Our analysis of the 14 most polluted cities of the world, all of which are in north India, clearly shows there is patchy recognition of the problem of unhealthy air.

It clearly shows that none of the MPs in the last five years were able to realise the importance of air quality in their constituencies so as to take comprehensive measures which will address the problem," Climate Trends' Director Aarti Khosla said.

According to green activists, measures for low carbon and infrastructural development have been taken based on a "piecemeal approach" without addressing the betterment of air quality and that is why in the last four-five years this "has actually deteriorated".

"There is a lack of coordinated and individual response of MPs with respect to air quality and even understanding that air pollution problem is causing a public health crisis," Khosla pointed out.

While Delhi, Agra and Kanpur are known to have very high levels of air pollution, places like Varanasi, Muzaffarpur, Gaya, and Srinagar - all on the list of the most-polluted - do not have a high concentration of polluting industries, or other common sources of pollution, such as vehicular emissions, it said.

Inadequate monitoring and insufficient data on poor air quality are primary reasons for limited understanding of the problem, the report said.

Bappaditya Chatterjee

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