If India has been found as the country with highest number of pollution related deaths or simply say pollution deaths, there are valid reasons behind it, the easily visible valid reasons.
We are lagging on most of the social indicators. The Global Hunger Index released last week placed India at 97th among the 118 countries ranked. The latest Human Development Index puts India at 131. We are home to the largest population of illiterate, poor, malnourished and hungry people in the world.
And so the natural corollary of it is – we are expected to top every ranking on social indicators if turned upside down – ranked highest among the worst performers – like this study on pollution deaths – done meticulously by The Lancet, the world’s most familiar and reputed medical journal.
The study done by The Lancet’s “Commission on Pollution and Health” estimates 9 million people lost their lives in 2015 due to different types of pollution and India, with 2.51 million deaths or 28 per cent of the total, tops the charts.
The study finds pollution deaths or deaths caused by the diseases due to environmental causes is now the largest global killer of humans, three times more than HIV-AIDS, Malaria and TB deaths combined and is neck to neck when deaths due to obesity (4 million), alcohol consumption (2.3 million), road accidents (1.4 million) and malnutrition and hunger (1.4 million) put together.
One in six deaths globally and one in four deaths in India in 2015 was due to some sort of environmental pollution – air pollution, water pollution, occupational pollution, soil pollution, workplace related pollution, chemical pollution and so on – the study findings say.
92 per cent of all pollution deaths are reported from rapidly industrialising nations like China, India and Brazil or low or middle-income countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya, Congo and The Philippines among others. After India, the other countries with most number of pollution deaths include China (1.83 million), Pakistan (0.31 million), Nigeria (0.25 million), Indonesia (0.21 million), Russia (0.17 million), USA (0.15 million), Congo (0.12 million), Brazil (0.1 million) and The Philippines (0.09 million).
Air pollution is the largest killer of all with 6.5 million worldwide deaths in 2015 while it killed 1.81 million people in India. India is followed by China (1.58 million), Pakistan (0.22 million), Bangladesh (0.21 million) and Russia (0.14 million) in maximum number of air pollution deaths.
Water pollution is the second largest killer with 1.8 million deaths. India is at top with 0.64 million water pollution deaths followed by Nigeria (0.16 million). Workplace pollutants killed 0.8 million in 2015, emerging as the third largest human killers. Occupational exposure (0.17 million deaths) and lead pollution (95000 deaths) are other major pollution death categories in India.
Five Indians contributed to the study including Congress leader and former Environment Minister of the country Jairam Ramesh Mukesh Khare, a civil engineering professor at IIT, Delhi. The other three, Prof Niladri Basu, Bindu L Lohani and Gautam Yadama are based out of India.