New Delhi: Expressing grave concerns over the worsening air quality, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has written to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, seeking inclusion of all non-attainment cities in the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and an increase in the number of monitoring stations across the country. Non-attainment cities do not meet national ambient air quality standards and the government launched the NCAP, a time-bound national strategy to tackle increasing air pollution, in January 2019.
To Mr. Javadekar, the Indian Medical Association said clean air is the “principal prerequisite to sustain healthy lives of people” as air pollution has become the fifth largest cause for premature deaths globally.
The doctors’ body said studies show the number of premature deaths due to air pollution in India is “only a fraction less” than that of deaths due to smoking. It said in the letter,
Polluted air from being just an environmental issue has become a massive health and economic crisis.
It said the situation is equally alarming in Delhi as the month-wise PM10 analysis of data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (Jan to Dec 2018), indicated PM10 values were 225 µg/m3 — much higher than the prescribed annual standard of 60 µg/m3. The IMA said,
We acknowledge that the ministry has launched the National Clean Air Programme in January 2019. The NCAP offers tentative targets of 20-30 per cent reduction of air pollution levels by 2024.
Rajan Sharma, the national president of IMA, said several studies have suggested that immediate measures at all levels are needed to curb pollution. He said,
We, at IMA, would be glad if the ministry accepts our recommendation to increase monitoring stations and include all non-attainment cities under NCAP.
In 2017, IMA organised an international conference on combating air pollution. NGO Greenpeace India lauded IMA’s crucial intervention in the fight against air pollution. Avinash Chanchal, senior campaigner at Greenpeace India said,
It is very encouraging to see IMA writing to the minister and amplifying the demand for clean air. It’s true, if we want to make NCAP truly a ‘national programme’, then we have to include all polluted cities into it and time-bound emission reduction targets need to be implemented.