According to a report by the World Bank, curbing air pollution in India needs efforts across South Asia.

 

Key highlights of the report

  • According to the report, existing measures by the government can reduce particulate matter, significant reduction is possible only if the territories spanning the airsheds implement coordinated policies.
  • Currently over 60% of South Asians are exposed to an average 35 g/m3 of PM2.5 annually.
  • In some parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) it spiked to as much as 100 g/m3 – nearly 20 times the upper limit of 5 g/m3 recommended by the World Health Organisation.
  • According to the report, India has six large airsheds, some of them shared with Pakistan, between which air pollutants move.
  • The six major airsheds in South Asia where air quality in one affected the other were —
    • West/Central IGP — Punjab (Pakistan), Punjab (India), Haryana, part of Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh;
    • Central/Eastern IGP — Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bangladesh;
    • Middle India — Odisha/Chhattisgarh;
    • Middle India — Eastern Gujarat/Western Maharashtra;
    • Northern/Central Indus River Plain — Pakistan, part of Afghanistan; and
    • Southern Indus Plain and further west — South Pakistan, Western Afghanistan extending into Eastern Iran.
  • When the wind direction was predominantly northwest to the southeast, 30% of the air pollution in Indian Punjab came from the Punjab Province in Pakistan and, on average, 30% of the air pollution in the largest cities of Bangladesh (Dhaka, Chittagong, and Khulna) originated in India.
  • In some years, substantial pollution flowed in the other direction across borders.
  • If Delhi National Capital Territory were to fully implement all air pollution control measures by 2030 while other parts of South Asia continued to follow current policies, it wouldn’t keep pollution exposure below 35 g/m3.
  • However if other parts of South Asia also adopted all feasible measures it would bring pollution below that number.