Union Budget Mumbai

Funds for clean air a welcome step

Not clean: Long term exposure to air pollution puts people at risk of developing respiratory tract infections.

Not clean: Long term exposure to air pollution puts people at risk of developing respiratory tract infections.   | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

An estimated 1.2 million Indians are killed due to poor air quality, a growing health crisis over the years. Clean air has thus become a matter of concern. On Saturday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tapped the concern rightly by allocating ₹4,400 crore for improving the air quality.

“In large cities with a population above one million, clean air is a matter of concern. The government proposes to encourage such States that are formulating and implementing plans for ensuring cleaner air in cities above one million. Parameters for the incentives would be notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change. Allocation for this purpose is ₹4,400 crore for 2020-21,” she said in her speech.

According to Dr. Sneha Limaye, a physician and air pollution scientist who heads the department of clinical research at the Chest Research Foundation in Pune, India’s air pollution levels have reached an explosive limit. “If we don’t act today, we are not leaving anything good for the next generation to come,” said Dr. Limaye adding that the Budget allocation is a sign that the government had taken cognizance of the problem and it is a welcome step. “Babies in the womb are getting exposed to the toxic air that the mothers are breathing. It is a health hazard and poor air quality will soon become the number one killer. We have to act fast,” she said.

Recently, giant lungs made of high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter installed in Mumbai went black from chalk white in a matter of two weeks. In a similar experiment in Delhi, it took six days for the lungs to go black while in Bengaluru, it took 25 days. The rapid colour change showed how the human lungs are impacted every day as we breathe the toxic air continuously.

Studies have shown that poor lung health during childhood are a major risk factor for developing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders later in life.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 3:05:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/funds-for-clean-air-a-welcome-step/article30716789.ece

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