New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) The WHO report that projects India in a bad light in terms of air pollution is a grim reminder that the issue has become a national health crisis, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said on Wednesday.
The WHO's latest urban air quality database 2016, finds 14 Indian cities are among 20 most polluted cities of the world, while adding that 9 out of 10 people across the world breathe polluted air.
"The report by WHO is a warning about the serious and run-away pollution and public health emergency that confronts India today," said CSE Director General Sunita Narain.
Calling for urgent intervention, the CSE pointed out lack of active air-quality monitoring in India.
"This is a grim reminder that air pollution has become a national public health crisis. Urgent intervention is needed for implementing the National Clean Air Action Plan with a strong compliance strategy to meet the clean air standards in all cities. It requires hard action," sais CSE Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Anumita Roychowdhury.
The CSE said real-time air quality monitoring, especially that of PM2.5, will have to be expanded significantly to assess air quality in all cities with sizeable population. Currently, of 5,000 odd cities and towns in India, monitoring is being done in only 307 cities.
"State governments will also have to wake up ... India needs massive energy transition across industries and households, mobility transition to public transport, walking and cycling, and effective waste management to control this run-away pollution," said Roychowdhury.
WHO estimates that around 7 million people die every year from exposure to polluted air. Ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.