According to a new study, even if India were to comply with its existing pollution control policies and regulations, about 674 million citizens are likely to breathe air with high concentrations of PM 2.5 in 2030.
The study also stated that, in 2030, only about half of India’s estimated population i.e. about 833 million citizens would be living in areas meeting India’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
The CEEW-IIASA study also found that the Indo-Gangetic plains, covering parts of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, have the highest population exposure to significant PM 2.5 concentrations. The largest contributor in major states of the Indo-Gangetic Plain was solid fuel, including biomass combustion for residential cooking.
However, in Delhi and Goa, due to enhanced access to clean fuels in these states it contributed only a small amount. Instead, NOx emissions from transportation were main suppliers to air pollution in these two states.
People living in parts of Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha are also observing high levels of PM 2.5. The governments in these regions must design state-specific policies to fulfill with NAAQS and embrace a low-emissions growth model to ensure better air quality for its citizens.
The government launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), a five-year action plan to curb air pollution. However, the CEEW-IIASA analysis suggested that NCAP needed to be backed by a legal order to ensure successful on-ground implementation of emission control measures.
In 2015, air pollution emission control costs accounted for about 0.7% of the gross domestic product. The CEEW-IIASA study found that this share would increase to 1.4 – 1.7% by 2030. By 2050, with an almost 10-fold increase in GDP, air pollution controls will account for 1.1 – 1.5% of the GDP, or 1.5% of the 2015 to 2050 increase in economic wealth.
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