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The toll that air pollution is taking on lives in India is alarming. The Health Effects Institute (HEI) report serves as yet another warning to the country to take corrective measures. Toxic air proved fatal for over 1.2 million in 2017 in the country. India bears the notorious burden of repeatedly having the maximum number of cities on the WHO’s list of most polluted places. What compounds the concern is that concerted efforts to improve the situation have been lax. Over the past few decades, inhaling poor-quality air has been affecting the quality of lives of millions — both rich and poor - as they gasp for a breath of unsullied air. There is hardly anyone who is free from its resultant morbid problems: allergies, coughs, watery eyes, and chronic heart or lung diseases. Even those not smoking are at equal risk, with the latest report ranking polluted air as the third highest cause of death among all health risks, above tobacco use. 

Both indoor and outdoor factors are contributing to the increasingly unlivable habitat. Only a strict check and regulation on the use of wood and kerosene stoves that convert homes into gas chambers will topple India from its present top position in indoor air pollution. The outdoor pollutants most impacting the health are soot, dust particles, ozone and sulphur and nitrous oxides. Despite efforts, villains such as emissions from vehicles and industries as well as constructions have not yet been tamed to the desired levels. The PM2.5 - particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter - continue to dangerously float in the ambient air and play havoc with lives by penetrating deep into the lungs in the absence of enough counter-measures.

It is time pollution is made an electoral issue in India, beginning with the current General Election. For, the rampant failure to make our air clean has already cast dark clouds on our next generation: the HEI report predicts that the lifespan of a child born in India today is likely to be two and a half years shortened as against the life expectancy loss of 20 months in countries that have controlled pollution.

Apart from this, an inventory of water polluting industries in the catchment of the Sukhna nullah would be maintained. It would cover aspects related to consents under the Water and Air Acts and authorisation , effluent generation, effluent treatment plants capacities and the final mode of effluent discharge. This would ensure that no untreated effluent was let-out which could pollution the nullah.
Action against identified industries for violating norms and against those that had not installed effluent treatment plants or whose plants were not operating optimally as per the prescribed standards would be initiated by board officials.

Ambika Sharma
Tribune News Service
Solan, April 3

Officials of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) have devised an effective action plan to mitigate pollution in the Sukhna catchment after the National Green Tribunal’s intervention.

The plan formulated after a thorough study of the catchment has suggested several long and short-term measures to improve the water quality. Recently, 11 industrial units were found not complying with the provisions of the Water ( Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. At least 7,100 cases of waterborne disease were detected in the area from 2015 to 2018.

Regional Officer, SPCB, Atul Parmar said prohibition of burning of any kind of waste, including agro-residue, commissioning of a common effluent treatment plant, setting up a solid waste management plant at Parwanoo, installation of continuous real time water quality monitoring station, channelisation and providing system for the measurement of flow of all drains that contribute to the pollution load in the Sukhna nullah area were the key measures proposed to be undertaken.

With a view to improving the groundwater quality, measures such as the sampling of tube wells, borewells and hand pumps, analysis of drinking water supply schemes in and around Parwanoo town, assessment of groundwater, identification of overexploited and critical areas, periodic surprise inspection of industries to rule out any forced injection of industrial effluents into the groundwater and making it mandatory for the industries to secure an NoC from the HP Ground Water Authority had also been proposed.

It had been proposed to undertake regular monitoring and sampling of water quality of the Sukhna nullah and various drains on a monthly basis. To study the impact of pollution on the health of the masses, medical camps would be organised. Plantation drives would be undertaken in floodplain zones and bio-diversity parks would be established.

Apart from this, an inventory of water polluting industries in the catchment of the Sukhna nullah would be maintained. It would cover aspects related to consents under the Water and Air Acts and authorisation , effluent generation, effluent treatment plants capacities and the final mode of effluent discharge. This would ensure that no untreated effluent was let-out which could pollution the nullah.
Action against identified industries for violating norms and against those that had not installed effluent treatment plants or whose plants were not operating optimally as per the prescribed standards would be initiated by board officials.

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