Something in the air

  • 14/11/1997

There is death in the air and more and more people are dying prematurely every year. In 1991-92, studies revealed that around 40,000 people were dying in India due to air pollution. By 1995 the figure had shot up dramatically to 50,000. Is our quest for economic growth self defeating? It seems so, for tiny particles of matter floating in the atmosphere known as suspended particulate matter or spm are slowly but silently choking people to death. And this is not all. There are deadly gases like ozone and sulphur dioxide to add to these degradations.

The more trucks we ply, the more three-wheelers we use, the more diesel cars we manufacture and the more power generator sets we use to make up for power cuts, the worse the situation becomes.

In 1991-92, 19 million people were taken ill or hospitalised in India, by 1995 the figure had reached 26 million. All this has a cost which the economy has to bear. Does anybody bother to take this cost into account?

Unplanned economic growth has resulted in filthy, grimy and sub-human living conditions in our cities.

So who is to blame. Is it industry? Automobiles? Or the government?

While industrial activity, like thermal power production, contribute to more than 80 per cent of the spm in Delhi, vehicles play a significant role as well. And junking old cars may not be the solution. It would merely be playing into the hands of the automobile industry currently facing a recession and seeking a way out of it. What would be more convenient for them than concealing their marketing drive under a green agenda. An agenda which could conveniently forget to mention that it is highly environmentally degrading to produce a car.

The car

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