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With Delhi and NCR getting the descriptive titles like ‘gas chamber’ and the world’s most polluted city, the entire area of National Capital Region encompassing not only Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad but also right up to Meerut, Panipat, Bhiwadi and Rohtak is likely to face a crippling economic impact more in sectors like tourism, transport, automobile and real estate, an ASSOCHAM paper has said.
While it may be difficult to hazard a figure of economic loss since the exact period of dangerous levels of pollutants would depend on the weather conditions along with administrative measures, there is no doubt that several billions of dollars of fresh investment and GDP loss would occur, besides causing a loss of confidence among the citizens, said ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat.
In the immediate run-up, the ongoing tourism season which is yet to pick up, could see a maximum hit with the Delhi and NCR pollution making global headlines and creating an impression to avoid the area for visitors.
The maximum foreign tourists visit the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur (entire Rajasthan). The ASSOCHAM feedback from tour operators and hoteliers clearly point out a deep concern over the negative impact the pollution can cause to the economy.
“If urgent steps on emergency scale are not taken, the economic impact arising out of the health issues could be catastrophic for the NCR, one of the important pillars of the national economy. Besides, this is also a wakeup call for other regions around Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata, adds Rawat.
There are already requests from global tour operators to Indian counterparts to re-align the itinerary of the international tourists to the ‘Golden Triangle’. Instead of the tourists dividing period of stay between Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan, there have been enquiries where the visitors can avoid Delhi, excepting the touch-down options at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the national capital.
“Surely, the maximum impact would be felt by the Delhi economy which had the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Rs. 558745 crore in 2015-16 at current prices. The GSDP of Delhi has been among the fastest growing in the country, but such a growth cannot be taken for granted,” the paper cautioned.
The chamber suggested a holistic set of measures for short-term and long –term to tackle pollution in the NCR. “It should not be taken as a Delhi problem or a Noida problem; it must be handled at the top level in all the neighbouring states of Haryana, UP, Punjab and Rajasthan along with active intervention of the Centre.”
Besides, measures like ban on construction activities are sustainable as it affects the daily wage earning construction workers because causing delays in national projects like Delhi Metro, adds the chamber.
“The challenge lies in changing the adversity of pollution into an opportunity for good health by sustainable development model,” said ASSOCHAM.