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Cities more unhealthy: Environment report

Seventy per cent of Indian rivers are polluted. Underground water in 19 states is contaminated. Air pollution in 90 per cent Indian cities can cause respiratory diseases. Forests in India are depleting, reports Chetan Chauhan.

delhi Updated: Aug 12, 2009 01:54 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Seventy per cent of Indian rivers are polluted. Underground water in 19 states is contaminated. Air pollution in 90 per cent Indian cities can cause respiratory diseases. Forests in India are depleting.

This sums up the findings of the State of Environment Report India 2009, released by Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday, the day negotiations for global climate change started in Bonn.

“We may survive the environmental hazards, our children will not, if environment strategies are not implemented in earnest,” said George Varughese, president of NGO Development Alternatives, which prepared the report.

Pollution has increased since 2000, when the last report was released. What’s worrying is the rise in respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM), a cause of respiratory ailments, in cities due to the increase in vehicles — it has gone up four times from two crore in 1991 — and industrial activity.

“The estimated economic cost of damage to public health from increased air pollution — based on RSPM measurement of 50 cities with a population of 110 million — reached Rs 15,000 crore in 2004,” the report said.