If the air quality is improved in India as per the World Health Organization’s air standards, Indians would gain four years on average or “a combined more than 4.7 billion life years”, according to the Air Quality-Life Index (AQLI). The AQLI tool has been developed by the Energy Policy Institute at The University of Chicago (EPIC). “If the country reduced pollution to comply with its national standards, its people could live more than 1 year longer on average, or a combined more than 1.6 billion life years,” the study read.
The study also said that some of the biggest gains would be seen in Delhi and some cities. About the capital city, the study said that Delhiites could live nine years longer if it met WHO standards. For two consecutive years – 2014 and 2015 – Delhi has ranked in the list of most populated cities in the world. “Six years longer if it met the country’s own national standards,” it said.
“The people of Kolkata and Mumbai could live roughly 3.5 years longer if the country met WHO standards,” it read.
The other cities with a potential considerable improvement in the average life expectancy if WHO norms are followed include (7.6 years), Agra (8.1 years), Patna (6.9 years), Bareilly (7.8 years) and Kanpur (7.2 years).
About India’s air pollution, Director of EPIC Michael Greenstone said, “High levels of air pollution are a part of people’s lives in India, just as they were in the U.S., England, Japan and other countries in the past. The last several decades have seen tremendous progress in many of these countries, but this progress did not happen by accident—it was the result of policy choices. As India navigates the dual and conflicting goals for economic growth and environmental quality, the AQLI provides a tool to make the benefits of policies to reduce air pollution concrete.”
EPIC said that it is already working with the government several state pollution control boards to implement “India’s first emissions trading program for particulate pollution”.
The study also listed some of the most polluted cities in India. NCT of Delhi (15.5 million population) tops the list in Particulate Matter Pollution with 98 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3). Ordered as per population, the other top cities are North 24 Parganas (Kolkata) with 45 micrograms per cubic metre of PM level, Mumbai Suburban with 44 micrograms per cubic metre of PM, Pune and South 24 Parganas (Kolkata) with 46, 42 PM level, respectively.