India: WHO report on pollution misleading, will release data

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India: WHO report on pollution misleading, will release data
Agencies
New Delhi, May 18: The latest WHO report on pollution, which listed over 30 Indian cities among hundred most polluted globally, was “misleading” and India will soon come out with air pollution data of major cities across US and Europe, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Wednesday.
Javadekar said the WHO report had not factored in various key pollutants like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and benzene while analysing the air quality and wondered why western countries focus more on India and some other countries and not themselves.
The WHO report, based on 2012-13 data, was prepared taking into consideration particulate matter PM 10 and PM 2.5 and listed Delhi as the 11th most polluted city in the world.
Environmentalists had sounded caution over the report, saying it does not give the right picture.
Javadekar said to categorise the cities as polluted based on only PM 2.5 was misleading as there are eight other major pollutants which have adverse impact on health. “There is ozone pollution, benzene pollution, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide pollution among eight major pollutants. All have adverse impact on health. On each parameter, each pollutant, there are different cities in the world which are bad and good,” he said.
The Minister said the government will soon come out with air pollution data of major cities in the US and Europe and that sourcing their data will not be a problem. “We will come out with the statistics as people should know the whole picture. Otherwise, (making the report only) on PM 2.5 is misleading,” Javadekar said.
The Minister also said he was surprised why western countries only focus more on India and some other countries and not themselves.
“Every citizen has the right to have full knowledge. PM 2.5 is not the only pollutant. There are many cities in the western countries as well which are suffering. So let citizens know that pollution problem is all over, in different categories and degrees,” he said.
The Minister said government’s decision to publish pollution data of other countries is not to counter but to spread awareness.
The Minister said government was also studying ill-effects of PM1 on health which was recently discovered. “The PM1 is a new thing which has come. We take it as a challenge and study it. So the study is underway,” the Minister said.
The Central Pollution Control Board is planning to monitor PM1, the least visible particulate matter, along with PM2.5 and PM10 under its National Air Quality Monitoring Programme.
Asked about air pollution in Delhi, he said Environment Ministry was working with various stakeholders to improve air quality of Delhi, adding it was not at loggerheads with the city government over the issue.
He said a three-year action plan has been devised to tackle air pollution in Delhi and government was seriously working on it. “There is vehicular pollution, there is pollution from dust, pollution from stubble burning and industries. We have already tackled industrial pollution to a great extent. We have got good success in containing stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.”
“We have already opened 53 kms of bypass, second leg will be opened next year and final by 2018. Therefore no undestined vehicle will come into Delhi. We have already preponed migration to Bharat VI of fuel and vehicle standard,” he said.
The Minister said Bharat VI will come into force from 2020 and not from 2024 as envisaged earlier. “That will improve the quality of diesel and petrol. 90 per cent of vehicular pollution will go and with all the new waste management rules, there will be less dust,” he said.
The Environment Minister described these measures as part of a “long term, sustainable and permanent remedy” to deal with vehicular pollution.
“Modi government is investing Rs 60,000 crore. We are talking of a permanent solution. Every state can do their own experiment but I will not comment,” he said when asked about the odd-even scheme of the AAP government.