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India plays down reports of pollution-related deaths

20 February 2017

The Union government has nonchalantly downplayed a recent global report attributing over a million deaths in the country in 2015 to air pollution, adhering to its stated position that though a serious issue, pollution was not the only reason that led to so many deaths.

Playing down the findings of the 'State of Global Air 2017', union environment minister Anil Madhav Dave said India preferred to rely on research done within the country. ''India trusts its own reports. We take decisions based on our own reports ... we will stress on research done by Indian institutions,'' Dave said, without specifying what reports or research he was talking about. (See: India pollution now worse than China, kills 1.1 mn a year). Admitting that air pollution was a serious issue that affected human health, he later told The Times of India that the government had been taking multiple measures to fight the menace. ''As I said in Parliament, I would like to repeat that the air pollution could be one of the triggering factors for respiratory ailments and diseases,'' he said.

On 6 February Dave had told Parliament, ''There is no conclusive data available in the country to establish a direct co-relationship of death exclusively with air pollution. Health effects of air pollution are a synergistic manifestation of factors such as food habits, occupational habits, socio-economic status, medical history, immunity, heredity, etc of individuals.''

Union science minister Harsh Vardhan agreed with Dave, but asserted that any report coming from bodies like the World Health Organisation should be taken ''seriously''. He told ToI that he was not aware of what the other global reports said.

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