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One in 8 deaths in India due to air pollution, life expectancy down by 1.7 years: Report

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New Delhi : One in every eight deaths in India is attributable to air pollution which now contributes to more disease burden than smoking. The first comprehensive estimates of deaths, disease burden, and life expectancy reduction associated with air pollution in each state of India by the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative has been published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

8% of the global population has a disproportionately high 26% of the global premature deaths and disease burden due to air pollution. Over half of the 12.4 lakh deaths in India attributable to air pollution in 2017 were in persons younger than 70 years. The average life expectancy in India would have been 1.7 years higher if the air pollution level were less than the minimal level causing health loss.

“India has one of the highest annual average ambient particulate matter PM2·5 exposure levels in the world. In 2017, no state in India had an annual population weighted ambient particulate matter mean PM2·5 less than the WHO recommended level of 10 µg/m³, 45 and 77% of India’s population was exposed to mean PM2·5 more than 40 µg/m³, which is the recommended limit set by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards of India,” reads the article in The Lancet Planetary Health. PM 2.5 particles are those that are suspended in air and have a diameter lesser than 2.5 microns. There is a marked variation between the states, with a 12 times difference for ambient particulate matter pollution and 43 times difference for household air pollution. States in north India had some of the highest levels of both ambient particulate matter and household air pollution, especially Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand; and the states Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab in north India had some of the highest ambient particulate matter pollution exposure in the country.

 

Releasing the report, Dr Balram Bhargava, secretary health research said “It is important to have robust estimates of the health impact of air pollution in every state of India in order to have a reference for improving the situation. Household air pollution is reducing in India, facilitated by the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

There is increasing political momentum in India to address air pollution. The findings reported today systematically document the variations among states, which would serve as a useful guide for making further progress in reducing the adverse impact of air pollution in the country.”

The India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative is a joint initiative of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, along with experts and stakeholders associated with over 100 Indian institutions. Lauding India’s achievements in cutting down smoking, the study noted that contrary to the popular association of air pollution only with respiratory diseases, in India, the disease burden because of air pollution also includes ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer, commonly associated with smoking. Prof.

Christopher Murray, Director, IHME, said”Air pollution in India causes not just lung disease, but also is a substantial contributing factor in cardiovascular disease and diabetes. As a result, there is enormous potential to reduce the burden of these non-communicable diseases by curbing air pollution across the country.”

According to the WHO database of air pollution, 14 of the 15 cities with the worst air pollution in the world are in India. The study notes that the experience in controlling air pollution in Mexico City and Beijing could be “instructive” for dealing with the extremely high pollution levels in New Delhi and other cities of India. Mexico and China have been making long-term efforts to switch to cleaner energy options, improve the application of emission-controlling technologies, promote public transport systems, promulgate policies to reduce total energy consumption, and promote environmental education and research, which attempt to address all major sources of air pollution through coordinated air quality management.

Prof. Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences added, “The upsurge in respiratory problems in the winter months with peak air pollution is well known, but what is now also becoming better understood is that air pollution is a year-round phenomenon particularly in north India which causes health impacts far beyond the seasonal rise of respiratory illnesses. Air pollution is now the leading risk factor for chronic obstructive lung disease in India, and a major contributor to pneumonia and lung cancer. This study provides the most comprehensive estimates of the adverse health impact of outdoor and indoor air pollution in each state of India so far, which would serve as a valuable resource for planning air pollution reduction in all parts of India.”


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Kejriwal attacks Pakistan says ‘we take our enemy head on’

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Gohana: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday described the Pulwama terror attack as an assault on the nation and said it was time that Pakistan be given a strong reply.

Kejriwal was in Haryana to pay tributes to the CRPF personnel who lost their lives in the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

“Pulwama attack is a cowardly act. This attack was against humanity. Pakistan is in the habit of carrying out such acts through proxy. But it is not in our blood to take on the enemy through proxy as we take our enemy head on,” he said.

 

He said that entire nation is united and Pakistan should be given a befitting reply. “Pakistan feels it can carry out such attacks and nothing will happen. But this time they need to be given a strong reply,” the Aam Aadmi Party’s national convener said.

Forty CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on Thursday in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district.

Kejriwal said, “It is an attack on the nation, we cannot sit silently. At this hour, the entire nation is with our government at the centre, the Prime Minister, the security forces.”

“From this platform, we want to tell the Prime Minister that the entire country will support you. There should be no politics at this time, we all are united. Pakistan should know that we can inflict heavy casualties on them,” he said.

He said the mother of one of the killed soldiers was suffering from cancer and some soldiers had to take care of their minor children.

Their sacrifices should not go in vain, otherwise it will be a betrayal to their families and the nation, he said.

“We have to take revenge of the sacrifices they made. Pakistan should be taught a befitting lesson. If this is not done, the souls of the martyrs will not rest in peace. Many families of martyrs have demanded that Pakistan be taught a stern lesson,” he said.

“They laid down their lives for our sake so that we remain safe. What was their dream, they dreamed that everyone should get good educational facilities, health care facilities, farmers due price for their crops, everyone should have access to electricity, water and good roads. Seventy years ago when we gained freedom, those who laid down their lives, they dreamed of a prosperous India.

“But even 70 years later, their dreams are yet to be fulfilled. We should take a pledge now and rise above considerations of politics, creed, religion to make this country number one in all fields, that will be befitting tributes to these soldiers,” he said.

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War kills more than 100,000 babies a year, says Save the Children

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MUNICH: At least 100,000 babies die every year because of armed conflict and its impact, from hunger to denial of aid, Save the Children International said.

In the 10 worst-hit countries, a conservative estimate of 550,000 infants died as a result of fighting between 2013 and 2017.

They succumbed to war and its effects, among them hunger, damage to hospitals and infrastructure, a lack of access to health care and sanitation and the denial of aid.
It said children face the threat of being killed or maimed, recruited by armed groups, abducted or falling victim to sexual violence.

 

“Almost one in five children are living in areas impacted by conflict — more than at any time in the past two decades,” said the charity’s CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt in a statement.

“The number of children being killed or maimed has more than tripled, and we are seeing an alarming increase in the use of aid as a weapon of war,” she said on releasing the report at the Munich Security Conference.

Save the Children said a study it had commissioned from the Peace Research Institute Oslo had found that 420 million children were living in conflict-affected areas in 2017.

This represents 18 per cent of all children worldwide and was up by 30 million from the previous year.

The worst-hit countries were Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Demo­cratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The total number of deaths from indirect effects over the five-year period jumped to 870,000 when all children under the age of five were included, the charity said.

It also issued a list of recommendations to help protect children, from steps such as committing to a minimum age of 18 for military recruitment to the avoidance of using explosive weapons in populated areas.

Thorning-Schmidt said the rising number of child casualties was very worrying.

“It is shocking that in the 21st century we are going backwards on principles and moral standards that are so simple — children and civilians should never be targeted.”

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Vadra says ‘witch hunt’ against him after ED attaches assets

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New Delhi: Robert Vadra on Saturday termed as “witch hunt” the Enforcement Directorate’s action of attaching assets of a firm linked to him, and claimed that it showed “complete misuse of assertion of power”.

Vadra alleged “relentless harassment” a day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said it had attached assets worth Rs 4.62 crore of a firm linked to him in connection with the Bikaner land scam money laundering case.

“I have had nothing to hide and I am surely not above the law. I have deposed for almost 6 days; ranging from 8 to 12 hours per day with a 40 minute lunch break, and have been escorted to the washroom,” Vadra said in a Facebook post.

 

He said he had completely cooperated and adhered to the rules whenever called in any part of the country.

“Attachment of my work place–my office and areas that are sub judice, shows a complete misuse of assertion of power, a complete vindictive & vicious witch hunt,” he alleged.

“When truth sustains and prevails, I suppose an apology is all that will suffice. Will stay determined for justice for me,” Vadra said.

The ED has issued a provisional order for attachment of the assets under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

It had grilled Vadra in this case in Jaipur twice earlier this week. His mother Maureen was also asked to depose but was allowed to go after completion of brief legal procedures.

Vadra was also questioned by the ED for three consecutive days last week in connection with a probe into allegations of money laundering to purchase assets abroad.

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