As many as 54,000 people lost their lives in Delhi last year due to air pollution caused by hazardous PM2.5 pollutant.
A new study has shown that the pollution levels in the national capital remained almost six times above the prescribed WHO limits, reported National Herald. According to the analysis of air data by Greenpeace Southeast Asia, around 1800 deaths per million were estimated due to PM2.5 air pollution in Delhi.
The study found that PM2.5 air pollution claimed approximately 54,000 lives in Delhi in 2020. PM2.5 refers to particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter. PM2.5 claimed over 4.2 million premature deaths in 2015 globally, according to the study.
The study warned that the damage due to air pollution is equally worrying in other Indian cities. Over 25,000 deaths in Mumbai in 2020 were due to air pollution. In the same year, due to air pollution, approximately 11,000 deaths were reported in Chennai and Hyderabad, 12,000 deaths were reported in Bengaluru, and 6,700 deaths were reported in Lucknow.
The study also said the estimated air pollution-related economic losses were $8.1 billion (₹58,895 crore) in Delhi. This amounts to 13 per cent of Delhi's annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The study said that despite a temporary reprieve in air quality due to the series of lockdowns last year, the latest figures from the report underscore the need to act immediately.
The study also suggested that there is a need to rapidly scale up renewable energy, put an end to fossil fuel emissions and boost sustainable and accessible transport systems.
Globally, over 160,000 deaths have been attributed to PM2.5 air pollution in the five most populous cities of Sao Paulo (22 million), Shanghai (26 million) and Tokyo (37 million), Delhi (30 million), Mexico City (22 million).
"We need to ensure our growing demand is fuelled by sustainable and cleaner sources of energy," said Avinash Chanchal, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace India. For this, he suggested that cities should promote low cost, active and carbon-neutral transport options by prioritising walking, cycling, and public transport.