New Delhi: Of the 90 lakh people who died due to pollution-related diseases in 2015, 25 lakh deaths were recorded in India, the highest in any country.
According to an international study published in The Lancet, pollution caused three times more deaths than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis put together in 2015. India not only recorded the maximum deaths in the year, but also the most due to air pollution: 18 lakh.
Another 6.4 lakh died due to water pollution in India the same year.
In every country, said the study, diseases caused by pollution is most prevalent among minorities and the marginalized sections. Over 70 percent of these diseases are non-communicable, like cardiac and respiratory conditions.
According to ‘The Lancet’ report, India along with China made up for over 50 percent deaths in the world due to ambient air pollution. The two countries together has rendered Southeast Asia the worst affected region with 32 lakh pollution-related deaths.
Also, pollution consumes about 7 percent of the medical expenses in the middle-income countries and welfare losses due to pollution go up to 4.6 trillion US dollars in a year.
The study, published by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, also noted that among the 10 most populous countries, the largest rise in pollution-related deaths were seen in India and Bangladesh.
In what can cause further worry, all future trends pointed at a projected 50 percent rise in mortality across the world due to air pollution. This would result in 42-66 lakh deaths in 2050. With no foreseeable pollution control measures in place, the sharpest rise will be seen in cities of southern and eastern Asia.
Pollution already accounts for 16 percent of the deaths globally and 92 percent of these deaths are recorded in low and middle-income countries like India.
In 2015, over 99 percent of deaths due to household air pollution and approximately 89 percent of deaths due to ambient air pollution were seen in low and middle-income countries.
The study further noted that the Supreme Court of India has observed that the Constitution guarantees Indians “the right of enjoyment of pollution-free water and air for full enjoyment of life”, yet, the data proves otherwise.