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Delhi's Deteriorating Air Quality

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Photo by brewingluminous from Flickr.

A New Delhi based research group, Centre for Science and Environment, has warned that air pollution is reaching critical levels in India’s capital city, threatening the health and wellbeing of the nearly 14 million people who call Delhi home. According to the Center, after 2002, air pollution had been falling as a result of an aggressive effort by the government to clean the air. The improvements, however, have not lasted in large part because ownership of personal vehicles has skyrocketed. According to the Center, Delhi adds a whopping 963 new personal vehicles on its roads each day! The answer to the growing problem, the Center argues, “is a massive initiative to increase public transport…along with steps to restrain the growth of private vehicles.” This will be tough, especially with the debut of super cheap cars in 2008, which more and more people from India’s burgeoning middle class will be able to afford. Why is air pollution such a big deal? The most recent numbers available are extremely upsetting: in 1995, Delhi had 9859 premature deaths related to air pollution. The rates of hospital admissions for illness related to air pollution are also staggering: in 1995 Delhi and Kolkata had a combined 5 million hospital admissions. What’s more, it’s a quality of life issue: who wants to live in cities where clean blue skies are blurred out by noxious brown clouds?

See what the New York Times has to say, here.

Check out Centre for Science and Environment’s presentation, here.

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