FOR THE second time in a week, Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave raised questions over a new air pollution report released by a “foreign institution”, and said the government would get its own study done to assess the health impacts of air pollution. Dave also put the onus on the state governments for taking steps to control air pollution, saying the Centre could only be “friend, philosopher and guide” in framing policies and issuing guidelines. “Tackling air pollution is not rocket science. It is not like sending 104 satellites to space at one go. Relatively simple steps need to be taken (to tackle air pollution), mainly by local bodies and state governments…Broadly, no more than four or five areas need to be targeted,” Dave told reporters.
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His comments came a week after Boston-based Health Effects Institute released its State of Global Air report that claimed that India now “rivalled” China for carrying the “highest air pollution health burden” in the world and attributed large number of deaths in 2015 to air pollution. Dave reiterated his earlier statement that studies by Indian institutions should be trusted in such matters. But, he was unable to point out any such study done by an Indian institution in this regard in recent times.
The minister, however, said that the Health Ministry was in the process of assessing the “trends and impact of pollution on human health” and the report would come out shortly. Environment ministry officials maintained that their main contention was that there was no reliable way to connect air pollution to the number of deaths, and, therefore, studies that claim to make this link could not be trusted.