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Air Pollution: India lags behind to safeguard basic human right- “to breathe clean air”

With Indian cities holding the top seven ranks in the list of the most polluted cities in the world, India definitely lags behind to safeguard its citizens’ basic human right- “to breathe clean air.”

And the situation is even worse in the national capital which has turned into a “gas chamber”. While millions struggle to breathe, this deadly haze kills an estimated 11 lakh citizens every year.

Yesterday, the pollution watchdog, National Green Tribunal(NGT) slapped a fine of 25 crore on the AAP-led Delhi Government for failing to curb the menace of pollution.

Varsha Joshi, the top official for power and transportation in the Delhi government says that there has been progress, including a 14 percent increase since October in the number of people getting pollution control certificates for vehicles. And there is greater political will to implement policies, she says, adding she hopes India can move toward hard pollution reduction targets, something China has already done.

‘We’re now stumbling, moving toward a place where we understand what’s happening, if nothing else,’ Joshi says. ‘My sincere hope is that next year we’ll be able to talk about quantitative targets, which still hasn’t happened. Till now, we’ve just been kind of begging the lord for mercy.’

The crop burning outside the city trigger the pollution. In the rush to plant the next wheat crop, north Indian farmers burn leftover rice stubble — sending plumes of smoke into the sky that foul the air in Delhi and dozens of other cities in northern India.

Environment Ministry claims that the central government has distributed about $85 million to the states to try and eradicate crop burning. But satellite data shows that amount has not made a difference — this year farmers have continued to set thousands of fires.

There were 5 percent more fires this year in the peak burning season between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15 than there were last year, said research scientist Hiren Jethva of the Universities Space Research Association at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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