A report by the International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, shows that the per capita emission of carbon dioxide by urban households is a shocking 16 times more than rural households. Experts say as households become richer, they consume more energy, leading to more carbon dioxide emission.
“The richest-poorest ratio in emission is 16:1 in urban areas and 8:1 in rural areas. More urbanised states and the richest urban households emit disproportionately high carbon dioxide. In urban areas, cities are very congested and if you have such a high level of carbon dioxide emission, it cannot go out of the urban environment. Thus, the pollutant level is much higher and can have serious health impacts,” said Dr Aparajita Chattopadhyay, faculty at IIPS, who has co-authored the study with Kaveri Patil, a research scholar.
Accordingly, a city like Mumbai is expected to have a highly polluted environment as Maharashtra occupies the sixth position in an assessment of states and carbon dioxide emission. While Tamil Nadu emits the highest carbon dioxide (268.3 kg for urban and 139.6 kg for rural), Maharashtra households emit 176.6 kg for urban and 72.4 kg for rural.
The paper has analysed the latest National Sample Survey Organisation data to understand household fuel consumption and energy use pattern, besides carbon dioxide emission in urban and rural households.
Results show that biomass is used as the primary cooking fuel in 58.68 per cent households. Overall, three-fourth rural households and one-fourth urban households rely on biomass cooking fuel, which has a harmful impact on health.
The study further shows that with an increase in education, use of clean fuel increases more sharply in urban areas as compared to rural areas. Use of clean fuel in Muslim households is the lowest (11 per cent in rural and 64.6 per cent in urban), followed by Hindus (12.8 per cent in rural and 78 per cent in urban areas), says the paper, which has been presented in the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population. Further, only 6.4 per cent and eight per cent of Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste households are using clean fuel in rural parts.
“A large majority of households in India depend on biomass for cooking and lighting. Despite good progress of clean household fuel used in urban India, firewood and chips provide fuel for cooking for an estimated 30-50 per cent of the poorest of the urban poor. In rural parts, as woods, chips and crop residue are readily available, people prefer to make use of these materials mainly for cooking. But it has an adverse health effect,” say the findings.
In western India, which includes Mumbai, 85.6 per cent urban household use clean fuel for cooking, while 12.6 per cent use unclean fuel, whereas in rural areas, 79.3 use unclean fuel as against 20.4 per cent, which use clean fuel.