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Will Introduce Private Member’s Bill to Come up With New Clean Air Act, Says Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi

Gogoi argued that the present Act doesn’t empower the pollution watchdogs enough to take punitive action against polluters.

News18.com

Updated:October 31, 2019, 2:59 PM IST
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Will Introduce Private Member’s Bill to Come up With New Clean Air Act, Says Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi
File photo of Congress MP Tarun Gogoi in Parliament. (PTI)

New Delhi: Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi on Thursday said that he was working towards introducing a private member’s bill to come up with a new Clean Air (Amendment) Act.

Speaking at the launch of the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), Gogoi said, “I am working towards introducing a private member's bill to come up with a new Clean Air (Amendment) Act where health impact of air pollution is given top priority. It’s high time that we as policymakers use evidence-based data to formulate policies that clean up our skies and help our citizens live longer and healthier lives.”

Gogoi argued that the present Act doesn’t empower the pollution watchdogs enough to take punitive action against polluters. His comments came amid grim prediction that those living in north India can expect to lose seven years of life expectancy unless it meets the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for fine particulate matter. This, as per AQLI, is due to a 72 percent increase in pollution in the last three decades

“This is due to a 72 percent increase in pollution from 1998 to 2016 in the region that is home to about 40 percent of India’s population. In 1998, the impact on people’s lives would have been half of what it is today, with residents losing 3.7 years of life expectancy,” it said in a statement.

The Air Quality Life Index, or AQLI, converts air pollution concentrations into their impact on life expectancy. It argues that this will allow public and policymakers alike to determine the benefits of air pollution policies in perhaps the most important measure that exists: longer lives. It is produced by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).

The problem is particularly dire in states in northern India, including Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and in West Bengal. It added, “In 1998, citizens living outside of the IGP region would have seen their lives cut short by 1.2 years relative to what it would have been if air quality met the WHO guideline. That number has grown to 2.6 years—also worsening but much more modest than what has taken place in the IGP.”

If India is successful in meeting its goals under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), and sustaining pollution reductions of about 25 percent, the AQLI shows that such improvements in air quality would extend the life expectancy of the average Indian by 1.3 years while those in the IGP would gain about 2 years onto their lives, the statement added.

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