Toxic air killed in India last year led to 1.7 million deaths accounting for 18 per cent of all fatalities, according to a study published in The Lancet.
The findings of the study by Lancet Planetary Health highlighted that “lost output from deaths and diseases due to air pollution in 2019 led to a loss of 1.4 per cent of the GDP of the country” which adds up to 2.6 lakh crore.
According to the paper, the economic loss due to air pollution as a percentage of the state GDP was higher in the northern and central Indian states.
The findings in this analysis show that while 40 per cent of the disease burden due to air pollution is from lung diseases, the remaining 60 per cent is from ischemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and neonatal deaths related to preterm birth, thus highlighting the broad-ranging impact of air pollution on human health.
However, the paper noted that India has a good economic and development trajectory, which can improve further with the reduction of air pollution.
The government schemes such as the ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’ and ‘Unnat Chulha Abhiyan’ have aided in reducing household air pollution in the country.
Such success encourages to enhance efforts to reduce outdoor air pollution as well said ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava.
The fatalities in 2019 led to a total loss of $36.8 billion, or 1.36 per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP), with the poor and populous states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar experiencing the highest economic loss as a percentage of their GDP.
Although the death rate due to household air pollution fell 64.2 per cent from 1990 to 2019, that due to ambient particulate matter pollution more than doubled, The Lancet said.
“The improvements in air quality across India during the COVID-19 lockdown period, and its upsurge again with the easing of restrictions, provide interesting pointers to the extent of air pollution reduction that is possible with reduced human activity,” it added.
The government said in a statement that India would need to invest more in state-specific pollution control programmes if it were to meet its goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024, from around $2.9 trillion now.