Emissions improve, but air can still kill
Better emissions introduced in 2000 has possibly saved around seven lakh lives in India between 2000 and 2010 but many lives are still at risk because of rising air pollution in Indian cities.
The latest Lancet report on disease burden has attributed particulate matter pollution as the fifth biggest cause of deaths in south Asia, including India and the latest Central Pollution Control Board data shows that air pollution is rising in many cities.
Exposure to air pollution can cause breathing problems leading to asthma attacks. According to recent studies, particulate matter upto 2.5 micro grams can even cause a heart attack.
"India has lost ground on management of air pollution even though its vehicles were as efficient as the European ones when emissions norms were introduced in India," Anup Bandivadekar of the International Council on Clean Transportation said at a workshop organised by the Centre for Science and Environment.
India's emission policy expired in 2010 with the introduction of Bharat stage-III emissions norms for the entire country, except 13 cities where Bharat stage-IV norms were made applicable.
What concerns environmentalists like Sunita Narian, CSE's director general, is that the policy delay was impacting the common man's health.