NEW DELHI: In response to a much criticised statement by Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar that there is no Indian study linking air pollution to deaths, the Indian Council of Medical Research on Monday re- released its report from last year to reiterate that nearly 12.4 lakh deaths in 2017 could be linked to rise in pollution in the country. Last week while responding to a query in the Lok Sabha, Javadekar had said, “No Indian study has shown any correlation between pollution and shortening of lifespan.” “Let us not create a fear psychosis among people,” he had told the House.
The top health research body under the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry, however, repeated from its report released in 2018 that the average life expectancy of Indians has dipped by 1.7 years because of pollution. The report published in Lancet Planetary Health in December last year was the first comprehensive study on the subject commissioned by the Union government for which 300 scientists and public health experts from 100 government and private institutions, including the environment ministry, had come together.
While putting out the report, the Council said it was doing so in response to “several media queries in last two days.” Many, however, saw the reiteration as a tough rejoinder to Javadekar for his “complete dismissal of the established facts”.“I would see it as Health Ministry under Harsh Vardhan’s slap to his ministerial colleague for denying a fact that the government itself had acknowledged just a year back by publishing this report,” said a researcher associated with the report.The World Health Organisation, among many activists, public health and environment experts have criticised Javadekar for the statement.
Dismissing report on pollution-lifespan link
“No Indian study has shown any correlation between pollution and shortening of lifespan,” Prakash Javadekar had told Parliament last week, a claim that falls flat in the face of the ICMR report.