Eighteen thousand Indians die every day from direct or indirect causes of air pollution.
And the progressive air poisoning is often linked to
This is what a new study published in the scientific
journal "The Lancet", reports, which generated a lively debate in India,
involving civil society and the Catholic Church.
The most polluted cities in the world are Patna and New Delhi, the study
notes, reporting 2010 data. Scholars indicate that one of the
consequences of exposure to pollutants is the birth of pre-term infants.
South Asia is the most affected region, with 1.6 million of pre-term
births, nearly half of the world total.
Air pollution and climate change are closely linked and must be
addressed together, says The Lancet, stating that there is a
"potentially catastrophic risk to human health". In addition, according
to a World Bank estimate, these phenomena generate a loss of income for
India amounting to 38 billion dollars a year.
Contradicting some of the reports published in India, The Lancet says
that power plants and coal-fired power stations contribute to air
pollution and the environment in the amount of 50% of the total.
The Minister for the Environment, Forests and Climate Change Anil Madhav
Dave recently admitted in Parliament that the country spends 70 million
rupees (about a million US dollars) each year for air pollution
monitoring, in a vast country like India.
According to the minister, there are no credible studies to quantify the
number of people with lung disease or the number of deaths that are a
direct result of air pollution. Minister for Science and Technology
Harsh Vardhan said: "When pollution hits the lungs, especially in
younger children, it can be a killer: it is like a slow poison. We are
very concerned, much has been done, but still a lot needs to be done".
The study shows that climate change has a significant impact on
children's health. An estimated 5.5 million lives were lost in 2013 from
diseases associated with air pollution.
Speaking to Fides, Fr. Fabian Toppo, professor of theology at the Major
Seminary of Calcutta said: "The report is disturbing. The Indian
government should act seriously to address the problem. Rapid
industrialization is the cause of air pollution. Conscience must be
accompanied by action".
"Institutions and individuals have a responsibility to work at all
levels to reduce climate change and deal with the impact", says to Fides
Deepika Singh, Office Coordinator for Climate Change in the Federation
of the Episcopal Conferences of Asia. "60% of people in India perceive
that climate change is damaging people's lives. The Church is trying to
help raise awareness, educate and act in terms of climate change. There
is no time to waste, because it is a matter that touches the lives of
all, especially the new generations "he concludes.