Despite some improvement in air quality due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown, air pollution continues to be a major public health issue and also the one which impacts our economy, as per a new report published by Greenpeace.
According to the analysis of air data by the Greenpeace Southeast Asia Analysis, around 12,000 people died in Bengaluru as a result of air pollution and related problems. As per the report, air pollution has also caused severe economic damages amounting to ₹12,365 crores in 2020.
The report published by Greenpeace, a global climate activist group, titled 'Greenpeace: Cost to Economy Due to Air Pollution Analysis 2021' stated that around 1.2 lakh lives were lost due to air pollution in six Indian cities and that total economic loss incurred on account of bad air amounted to over ₹2 lakh crore.
However, it wasn't clear how Greenpeace arrived at these numbers as the attributed deaths were not tracked by the Union or state governments.
The report highlights the poor state of air in major cities in the country, and its consequences.
According to the report, to show the impact of air pollution-related deaths on the economy, the approach used by Greenpeace is called "willingness-to-pay". A lost life year or a year lived with a disability is converted to money by the amount that people are willing to pay in order to avoid this negative outcome as per the approach.
Avinash Chanchal, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace India said, "When we choose fossil fuel over clean energy, our health is put at stake. Polluted air increases the likelihood of deaths due to cancer and stroke, a spike in asthma attacks and worsens the severity of Covid-19 symptoms."
One of the major reasons responsible for poor air is construction. Another reason is the vehicular pollution.
Bengaluru has 9.4 million vehicles in an area of just around 820 square kilometres.
As reported by The Hindustan Times, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) official said that air quality had improved last year due to the lockdown and our own measures but increased vehicular population, the metro (rail) and other construction, and industrial activity have impacted overall figures.
The official added that PM10 and PM2.5 pollutants have gone up, but other gaseous pollutants are under control.
Experts have pointed out the "law of averages" as air quality tends to worsen sharply during peak hours and then marginally reduce through other times. Under such circumstances, calculating accurate AQI becomes a problem.
All stakeholders, including the BBMP, transport utilities and KSPCB, had committed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and State to tackle air pollution by listing out a 44-point action plan. But, it has become difficult to implement in Bengaluru due to a shortage of funds, said the KSPCB official.
Experts also point out that there were only around 20 monitoring stations (both manual and real-time) to capture pollution data in a city that expands to over 820 square km.