Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG), a city-based non-profit organisation working on citizen rights and environmental issues, brought together officials from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and Greater Chennai Police on January 29 to discuss air quality and incidences of violent crime in Chennai.
In an attempt to bring awareness and a wider public discussion on air pollution, the CAG is examining a correlation between air pollution and violent crimes based on eight years of pollutant data from manual air quality monitoring stations of TNPCB in Adyar, Anna Nagar, Nungambakkam, Kilpauk, T. Nagar, and two Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations, against records of violent crime (murder, attempt to murder, dacoity, robbery, grievous hurt) from 95 police stations under Chennai Police Commissionerate to arrive at a statistical correlation.
A significant limitation of this study, which is expected to be released in a couple of weeks, is that a statistical correlation does not necessarily imply causation. “While we can identify statistical relationships, establishing causality requires further research that includes meteorological variables and duration of exposure to polluted air. Moreover, determining the presence of air pollutants in the human body necessitates direct human testing. This involves analysing blood or tissue samples under strict ethical guidelines,” says Shankar Prakash, senior researcher, CAG and author of the study.
As these factors were not accounted for in the study, Mr. Prakash cautions that the correlations should be interpreted with caution. At the discussion on Monday, CAG researchers, along with 15 police inspectors and three TNPCB officials went over the reasons behind the gap in the registration of police cases under various environmental protection laws.