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(IMA has also demanded the ministry to increase the number of monitoring stations across the country)

New Delhi, 22 February : Indian Medical Association (IMA) has expressed grave concerns on the worsening air quality levels in the country. In a letter, addressed to Mr. Prakash Javdekar, Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, IMA has called ‘clean air as the principal prerequisite to sustain healthy lives of people.’  It has demanded the government to include all the non-attainment cities in the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and also increase the number of air quality monitoring stations across the country.

Indian Medical Association cited the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), the latest available January to December 2018 month-wise PM10 analysis, which indicated that PM10 values were 225 µg/m3, much higher than the prescribed annual standard of 60 µg/m3. However, according to the annual Airpocalypse-IV report by Greenpeace India, Delhi had shown signs of improvement compared to the last couple of years but still remained more than 3.5 times more polluted than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and more than 11 times the World Health Organization (WHO)  prescribed limits for PM10. The report also mentioned that almost all states including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Telangana, Karnataka, TamilNadu and Bihar have a bigger number of non-attainment cities compared to the current number included under National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

So far, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has identified only 122 non-attainment cities and 102 of them included under NCAP. These 122 cities are spread across 19 states and 5 union territories. The Airpocalypse -IV report indicates that 116  more cities which exceed 60 µg/m3 limit prescribed by NAAQS are required to be included in the non-attainment category.

Commenting on the letter, Dr. Rajan Sharma, National President IMA said, “Several studies and media reports are supportive of the fact that immediate measures at all levels are needed to curb pollution menace. We at IMA would be glad if the ministry accepts our recommendations for increasing the number of monitoring stations across the country and including all the non-attainment cities under the NCAP.”

It must be noted that IMA earlier too, has been vocal on the pollution issue. In 2017, IMA organized an International Conference on combating Air Pollution which was attended by various national and international delegates.

Greenpeace India applauds IMA’s crucial intervention in the fight against air pollution. Avinash Chanchal, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace India said, “We completely agree with the demands of IMA, it is very encouraging to see IMA writing to the Minister and amplifying the demand for clean air. It’s true, if we want to make NCAP truly a ‘national program’, then we have to include all polluted cities into it and time-bound emission reduction targets need to be implemented.”

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