Rising levels of pollution causing growing burden of diseases and deaths, has prompted the World Health Organisation, WHO, to invite health and environment ministers of all countries, global leaders and experts from academia and scientific community for the first time to devise a strategy to combat pollution and its impact on health.
The high-level three-day meeting, slated from October 30 to November 1 in Geneva, is likely to determine ambitious targets for countries, mainly those where morbidity and mortality is higher. India may have to face flak at the global stage with the further dipping of air quality in Delhi and northern region this weekend, sources said.
“The timing is such that India is likely to face increased criticism as pollution levels are going to increase from here with stubble fires in Haryana and Punjab as farmers get ready to sow winter crops and a possible firecracker spurt on Diwali, “an official said.
Latest estimates from the UN agency show that of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, the top 14 are in India. While Kanpur, Faridabad and Varanasi were among the top three, others in the list include Delhi, Patna, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur, followed by Ali Subah Al-Salem in Kuwait and a few cities in China and Mongolia.
Outdoor air pollution accounted for over 10.87 lakh deaths in India in 2016, whereas household air pollution led to over 10.85 lakh deaths.
The agenda drawn by WHO for the meeting insists that affordable strategies exist to reduce key pollution emissions from the transport, energy, agriculture, waste and housing sectors and countries must adopt health-conscious strategies to reduce climate change and support sustainable development goals for health, energy and cities.