A report released by ICIMOD in February 2019 emphasised that air pollution in the Himalayas is on the rise and regional air quality has worsened in the past two decades, with the adjacent Indo-Gangetic Plains now one of the most polluted regions in the world.
It noted that in 12 cities (Allahabad, Patna, Dehradun, Delhi, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Agra and Jaipur in India, Peshawar and Rawalpindi in Pakistan and Narayangonj in Bangladesh), the annual average particulate matter 2.5 concentration is more than ten times higher than the guideline value (safe value).
Director of Climate Trends, Aarti Khosla said that “if authorities in India and Pakistan rise above politics and take a common stand against a problem like air pollution then it will be a significant step.
Air pollution in India is a serious health issue. Of the most polluted cities in the world, 22 out of 30 were in India in 2018. As per a study based on 2016 data, at least 140 million people in India breathe air that is 10 times or more over the WHO safe limit and 13 of the world’s 20 cities with the highest annual levels of air pollution are in India.The 51% of pollution is caused by the industrial pollution, 27% by vehicles, 8% by crop burning and 5% by diwali fireworks. Air pollution contributes to the premature deaths of 2 million Indians every year. emissions come from vehicles and industry, whereas in rural areas, much of the pollution stems from biomass burning for cooking and keeping warm.
As per the BBC reports, with high levels of pollution after Diwali , a blame game started between India and Pakistan, because burning takes place at the last quarter of every year which is the major contributor to dangerous pollutants in air.
As per the tweet of Pakistan Minister of state for climate change, “”You can’t choose your neighbouring countries. Heavy spread out crop burning sanctioned by Indian Govt across the border impact us hard. We’re trying best to mitigate this bane, nevertheless. The minister got a reply from BJP politician that there is a possibility that poisonous air could have been released by a neighbouring country.
There is a need that state governments of Pakistan and India need to collaborate to tackle this environmental issue.
The govt of Pakistan and India should put aside their Differences and start to develop a joint comprehensive policy on climate change. They must urgently invest in collecting reliable air-monitoring data together to better understand the risks to public health.
Syed Adil is a Researcher from Central Kashmir.