India Proposes Law to Tackle Country’s Deadly Air Pollution
Air pollution rises from cooling towers. (Photographer:Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)     

India Proposes Law to Tackle Country’s Deadly Air Pollution

India’s federal government informed the top court that it is framing a new law to tackle one of the worst air pollution problems in the world.

The federal government told the court that it is drawing up a comprehensive law to check the menace. The new law is for air quality management in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas, and setting up a permanent body for the purpose, said India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. The draft of the law would be submitted in the court soon.

India’s capital along with several cities in north India are among the top polluted areas in the world and the air quality index plummets to hazardous during winters. The toxic air costs the country as much as 8.5% of its gross domestic product, according to World Bank calculations, besides shortening the lives of citizens. Authorities are prompted into action each year but the air quality has gone from bad to worse in the last decade due to burning of farm residue, coal powered power plants, vehicles, inadequate solid waste management, festive crackers and politics.

“The new law would be good if it has some teeth,” said Vikas Singh, who represented petitioners, residents of Delhi and suburbs seeking to curb air pollution. “That we can say only after the law comes,” he said over phone.

India accounted for 21% of global sulfur dioxide emissions, which increases the risks of heart and lung diseases, mostly from coal-fired power plants that lack pollution-curbing equipment, according to a new report from Greenpeace India and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. In contrast, China, the world’s biggest coal burner, saw SO2 emissions plummet 5% last year and 87% since 2011, thanks to strengthened emission standards and increased use of scrubbers at power plants.

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