Calling for a clean air mission on the lines of the Swachh Bharat mission, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), in a report launched Thursday, warned that even if it is implemented right away, particle pollution will increase till 2030 and only fall thereafter.
The report, that identified air pollution as the fifth largest killer in India, also called for drafting and implementing national level strategies for reduction in air pollution levels at both regional and urban scales.
TERI projected the mortalities to increase to 1.1 million in 2031 and 1.8 million in 2051. According to the report, industrial pollution remains a big cause of concern in India and especially Delhi, and called for a policy framework to reduce nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide emissions.
"Most of the power plants have ESPs to control particle pollution but not SO2... In case of NOx, even if BS-VI standard cleaner fuels are set to arrive, railways and shipping industry would still continue emitting it till 2050, because there are no standards," Sumit Sharma, a fellow at TERI and author of the report "Measures to Control Air Pollution in Urban Centres of India: Policy and Institutional framework", told IANS.
He also said that for Delhi, which is the most polluted of all, industrial pollution stays the biggest threat even after closure of industrial units, as several industries are operating outside the city or in the National Capital Region (NCR).
While measures in the transport sector were taken, LPG subscriptions were increased and measures to control agricultural stubble burning, but industry using coal for boilers was out of the calculations, Sharma said.
According to the report which focuses on three major effluents - PM10 or particles in air with diameter less than 10mm, nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide, PM10 emissions at national scale in 2016 are dominated by industrial (51 per cent) and residential combustion (28 per cent), while sectors causing overall pollution includes industry, transport, dust, agriculture, power and others.
Keeping the condition that a policy is put at place, the report estimates industrial sector to be biggest contributor of PM10, following by dust and construction. According to report, industrial emission would lead to increase in PM10 over 2030 but a drop by 2050. It also stated that transport would lead to increase in PM10 till 2050.
About nitrogen oxides, transport and industry will cause increase in effluents till 2050, while power and transport sector would be major cause of concern till 2050 in terms of sulphur di-oxide. The report further seeks to incorporate ministries and authorities dealing with transport, power, construction, agriculture, rural development, and environment, across city and state jurisdictions, for a pan-India clean air mission.