New Delhi :Delhi registered an alarming increase in deaths due to respiratory ailments in 2016, the year the national Capital witnessed its worst pollution crisis in at least two decades, according to data released by the state government on Saturday.
Deaths linked to breathing disorders shot up by 40% in 2016 from 2015 — 6,502 to 9,149 — the highest jump from the previous year since 2010. Incidentally, both 2016 and 2010 had seen a sharp rise in dust pollution, according to data from the Central Pollution Control Board. Dust is a major cause of pulmonary and cardiac ailments.
From 2009 to 2010, the number of deaths linked to respiratory problems had gone up from 5,328 to 7,525 – an increase of 41%.
“This data proves that air pollution is taking a heavy toll on our health. We need stricter and sustained measures to bring down pollution levels,” said Anumita Roychoudhury, executive director (research and advocacy) at the Centre for Science and Environment.
In 2016, the annual average PM10 particulate level in Delhi shot up to 260ug/m3, more than two-and-a-half times the permissible limit of 100. The city was also engulfed in its worst smog in 17 years in November that year.
Data submitted in the Lok Sabha last week by the ministry of environment and forest had shown that Delhi accounts for the highest number of respiratory ailment deaths after Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Earlier this year, British Medical journal The Lancet had published a report that more than half-a-million Indians were estimated to have died prematurely in 2015 due to high levels of the smallest PM 2.5 particles, which can penetrate deep into the lungs and trigger a range of respiratory and cardiac ailments.
Ironically, other statistics released by the government showed a sharp drop in diesel consumption between 2015-16 and 2016-2017 despite the fact that its vehicular fleet has shot up by 8%, crossing the 10-million mark. Experts attributed a fall in diesel consumption to various court rulings, which acted as a deterrent for buying such cars.
Diesel exhaust fumes are classified as more polluting than fumes released by vehicles that run on petrol.
The consumption of diesel dropped from around 1.5 milllion metric tonnes in 2015-16 to around 1.2 million metric tonnes in 2016-17, while the consumption of petrol went up marginally from .902 million metric tonnes to .906 million metric tonnes, the data showed.
“Various court rulings and directions by the National Green Tribunal have resulted in the drop in diesel vehicles.
There is a ban on 10-year-old diesel operated vehicles in Delhi-NCR. Earlier the apex court had temporarily banned the sale of large diesel cars with an engine capacity of over 2000cc. These rulings have resulted in drop in diesel vehicles in Delhi,” said Kamal Soi, member of the National Road Safety Council.
Kartarpur corridor to be opened for Indian Sikh pilgrims on Nov 9: Pakistan official
From November 9, Pakistan will allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy Kartarpur Sahib, a senior official heading the much-awaited Kartarpur corridor project announced on September 16.
Project Director Atif Majid made the announcement during the maiden visit of Pakistani and foreign journalists to the proposed Kartarpur corridor in Narowal, some 125 km from Lahore, amidst fresh tension between India and Pakistan after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
Majid said so far 86 percent of the work on the corridor has been completed and it will be opened to pilgrims on November 9.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.
Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district up to the border will be constructed by India.
Both countries have agreed that Pakistan would allow 5,000 Sikh visitors per day into the country through the corridor, which will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947.
Majid said some 76 immigration counters have been set up to cater to 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from India every day. And for 10,000 pilgrims visiting here daily, 152 immigration counters will be set up. He said that initially 5,000 Sikhs from India will come daily and later the number will rise to 10,000.
Pakistan, however, repeatedly said that the opening of the Kartarpur corridor will not be hit by the current tension with India.
The visiting Indian Sikhs will have to bring their passports with them and they will be issued corridor pass. On return, they will receive their passports from immigration counter after returning the pass.
Airport-like facilities will be provided to the pilgrims who will come here by bus, he said. “Finger prints will be taken of every Indian and Pakistani Sikhs entering the Kartar Sahib,” he said.
The journalists were told that the visiting Sikh pilgrims will be provided free food and medicines by the Pakistan Gurdwara Sikh Parbhandik Committee.
The security of the corridor will be provided by provincial paramilitary forces Punjab Rangers.
During the last round of talks on the Kartarpur corridor held last week, Pakistan showed inflexibility and gave unfavourable responses on issues of charging a service fee, the number of pilgrims to be allowed on special occasions and allowing protocol officials to accompany them.
There were three issues on which the Indian side had asked Pakistan to show some flexibility — their insistence on charging USD 20 per pilgrim, allowing 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions and Indian protocol officer to accompany the delegation that visits Kartarpur everyday.
“We had hoped that all pending issues will be resolved. However we realised that Pakistan was quite inflexible during the talks,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said.
Farooq Abdullah upheld unity, integrity of country, unjust to arrest him: Salman Khurshid
Stating that former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah has served the country by upholding its unity and integrity, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Monday termed his alleged arrest under Public Safety Act (PSA) as unjust.
“The arrest of Farooq Abdullah threatens the identity of the country. He is one of the leaders who upheld the unity and integrity of the country in Jammu and Kashmir. His entire family including his father and son have served the state and the Union”, said Khurshid to ANI.
“Injustice had been done not only with him but the entire country”, Khurshid added.
Khurshid’s remarks come after sources in the Jammu and Kashmir government said that Farooq Abdullah has been detained under the provisions of the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).
Reports of Abdullah being booked under the PSA came on a day when the Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration on the petition seeking the release of Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah.
PSA is a stringent law that enables detention without trial for up to two years.
Abdullah has been under the preventive detention in Srinagar after the central government revoked the special Constitutional status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir integral part of India, says Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind
Top Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JuH) on Thursday came out in support of the Centre’s decision of abrogating provisions of Article 370, saying Kashmir is an “integral part” of the country and the welfare of people in the Valley lies in their integration with India.
In the resolution passed in its annual general meeting held in New Delhi, JuH rallied for a united India.
“It is our belief that the welfare of the people of Kashmir lies in getting integrated with India. The inimical forces and the neighbouring country are bent upon destroying Kashmir. The oppressed and beleaguered people of Kashmir are stuck between opposing forces,” it said, without mentioning Article 370.
“JuH stands steadfastly for the unity and integrity of the country and has accorded it paramount importance. As such it can never support any separatist movement, rather it considers such movements not only harmful for India but also for the people of Kashmir,” it said.
It also said that the current situation in Kashmir demands that peaceful initiatives be launched to maintain peace and security in the region, especially in the view of the repercussions of clash of “atomic powers”.
The Muslim body also appealed to the government of India to protect the people of Kashmir and their property while respecting human rights.
“It must use every possible constitutional means for bringing back normalcy in the region and winning the hearts of the people of Kashmir,” it said.