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Air Pollution in India and China

Atmospheric particulate matter in micro meter (Courtesy: Wikipedia)

New Delhi, Jan 16 (): We can presume that there can be not much difference between India and China regarding air pollution. Both face similar trends in industrial growth.They join hands in summits regarding environment. Such presumption is not true.

In India, statistics with facts and figures are open. But not many people take it as a sensitive issue. In China, they allow controlled statistics for publication. If we read in between lines, there can be no angry protest in India against growing air pollution. But in China, the government fears public protest and restricts the press from publishing about air pollution still as they can open a window.

Anyway, the pictures taken in Beijing and Delhi over the ground or from the satellites shall show the truth for sensitive eyes and noses in the human beings who are living by respiration.

In India schools are closed for cyclonic winds and heavy rains. It is surprising to learn that recently Chinese cities closed schools and government vehicles were off the road for increased levels of air pollution. Neither the government nor the press in China cannot deny the fact that hospitals were occupied by more number of cases reporting respiratory illness due to the air pollution measure, PM 2.5 level rising to 755 mg/cum which is 255 mg/cu more than normal levels at Chinese national standards. There are more discussions in Chinese media and blogs about the crisis due to air pollution. A global citizen should be happy that China addresses the air pollution with utmost concern.

In Delhi it is reported many times that the PM 2.5 rose above 500mg/cu whereas the normal levels should be only 60 to 80 mg/cu as per Indian national quality standards. In all issues including air pollution, the democratic Indian administration is insensitive and does not address problem to a minimum adequate level. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) exhibits a habit of claiming that the situation is under control or oversimplifies it by taking it as a temporary phenomenon lasting for just a brief period.

In India, who understands the measurements and comes to streets for protest on these matters? Anna Hazares are not aware of hazardous effects in environment. This technical term PM should not be confused with our Manmohan Singh, the Indian PM. Here PM stands for Particulate Matter. What are those matters? They are just suspended particles in the air such as dust, smoke, soot, smog, allergens etc. These exclude other gases such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide etc.

According to PM 2.5 measure, the particle pollutants are finer with sizes less than 2.5 micrometer and therefore they affect the lungs more. There is another measure PM10 which indicates presence of coarse particles of sizes ranging from 2.5 micrometer to 10 micrometer. By PM 10 standards globally, Kolkata occupies fifth place and Mumbai eighth place. Beijing is a better place at 10.

True that Diwali in Delhi or Bhogi in Chennai are periods of enormous rise in air pollution levels. But it is also possible to study a long-term increase in air pollution. If we imagine that Delhi is having the highest air pollution in India it is untrue. What we measure at ground level does not reflect the ground realities. What does that mean? That means there is another term called “space” realities.

We have got more information from NASA satellites accumulated by Tel Aviv University which is illustrated in our Truthdive map. This shows the increase in air pollution in percentage in the period 2002 to 2010. There is alarming 34% increase in air pollution in Bangalore when compared to 4.2% in Delhi and 13.7% in Shangai of China.

If India cannot discuss about it now, we are sorry we are culturally backward from the point of allowing manual scavenging to pumping dirty gases inside the lungs of Indian President and Prime Minister. In few years Indian Parliament cannot be seen through naked eyes. The Communist Party of China shall be the best organization when compared to the Indian political parties. The Chinese media shall be more people-oriented than the Delhi media which will continue to shout for nothing.