India is home to 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world as documented by the World Health Organization (WHO). Half of Delhi’s 4.4 million children have permanent lung damage that they will never fully recover from. Delhi’s toxic air may be making news every few months. But pollution levels across the country are alarming too. The 2017 State of Global Air report, published by the Health Effects Institute, shows that air pollution-related deaths in Indian between 1990 and 2015 rose by almost 150%. More simply, today in India 14.7 people in every 100,000 die of an o-zone related illness. The figure is 5.9 people in every 100,000 in China, which is frequently maligned for its record on air pollution. According to an analysis of 2015 data for 168 cities by Greenpeace India, 154 were found to have an average particulate matter level higher than the national standard. None of the cities studied had air quality matching the standard prescribed by the World Health Organisation.
The issue of air pollution in India is as complex and diverse as the country itself. Broadly speaking, tackling air pollution in India is not merely a case of Indian Government-led policy-making that is both incentivizing and punitive for businesses and individuals when considering the environment.