New Delhi: India’s policies to fight air pollution need to include the health impact of breathing bad air, said Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi, adding that he intends to introduce a Private Member’s Bill in the Parliament in this regard.
Speaking on day two of the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) Dialogues 2020 held at the national capital Tuesday, Gogoi said that linking pollution policies to health will make the government more proactive.
“From the political instinct point of view, we need to link air quality with health. Look at the government response to the coronavirus crisis. The government is proactive because there is an immediate health impact,” Gogoi, an MP from Assam, said.
Last year, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had said there is no Indian study to show that pollution impacts people’s lives and health, drawing sharp criticism from scientists and environmentalists.
A number of studies have shown that air pollution causes a lot of health issues — ranging from heart diseases to lung disorders. A recent study has even shown that air pollution shortens lives worldwide by nearly three years on average and causes 8.8 million premature deaths annually.
Keeping political differences aside, Gogoi said that he appreciates the Narendra Modi government’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which shows that at least it considers air pollution a national problem.
The NCAP is a national-level strategy launched by the environment ministry last year. It lays out action plans for over 120 cities across the country that are currently plagued by bad air quality. Under this programme, the government aims to bring down pollution levels by up to 30 per cent by 2024.
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NCAP lacks ‘legislative teeth’
Gogoi, however, pointed out the NCAP does not have “legislative teeth” — that is it does not have any provisions to ensure that cities take steps to fight air pollution.
There is also no clearly laid out policy for tracking air quality improvements, he added.
Gogoi suggested the country’s pollution control boards need to be upgraded so that they match the standards of their international counterparts.
The Parliamentarian also called for better coordination between different state governments as well as civil society organisations to fight air pollution.
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