New Delhi: Dismissing international studies that said more than a million people die due to air pollution in India every year, the environment ministry on Tuesday said it would rather go by research conducted by Indians.
The environment ministry, however, admitted that at present it had no data or study by any Indian authority estimating the number of deaths due to air pollution.
The ministry released a list of 94 major Indian cities that had poor air quality during 2011-2015. The list includes Delhi, Agra, Mumbai, Guwahati, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Nagpur, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Cuttack, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Lucknow, Noida, Ghaziabad, Varanasi and Kolkata.
According to a report released last week, India and China were together responsible for over half the 4.2 million premature deaths that took place across the world in 2015 because of long-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM). The State of Global Air 2017 report, released last week by the US-based Health Effects Institute, said about 1.1 million people die in India every year due to air pollution.
Another study published in British medical journal The Lancet last week also said over one million Indians die due to air pollution every year.
“We don’t agree with these studies as they extrapolate numbers and sensationalize the figures," said a senior ministry official, who declined to be named.
Environment minister Anil Madhav Dave said Indian authorities are beginning a study to investigate deaths from air pollution. “We are working with the ministry of health and family welfare to assess the trends and impacts in this regard," he said.
“There are many serious institutions in India—NGOs, government organisations—which do research on this issue. And a proud country always trusts in its own data and takes action on that. (Controlling) air quality is not rocket science. What state governments and local bodies have to do, they have been told a number of times. In the future as well they will be told. They just have to work on four or five points," Dave said at a press conference.
“Whatever report comes, we need to trust data from India. We believe in our institutions. Neither we are saying those (global) studies are correct or they are incorrect. We are also not saying we do not take note of those studies," said Dave, adding that there is a need for caution while looking at such studies before arriving at a conclusion. He said the ministry has repeatedly issued guidelines to local urban bodies to take necessary action to control air pollution.