India’s air pollution problem has become a voting issue - finally!

India’s key political parties have pledged new resolutions for tackling the country’s widespread air pollution problem. This is a decisive shift from the last election in 2014, in which no party manifestos had outlined goals for cleaner air.

While India’s air pollution crisis is certainly not new, growing public awareness and recent reports detailing the severity of the problem, have forced the issue onto political agendas.

Annual city averages for PM2.5 in India2018 annual city averages for PM2.5 in India, revealing the prevalence of “unhealthy” air across the country.

India is ranked among the most polluted countries in the world, with 12 of the 15 most polluted cities, globally. The deadly smog, which shrouds so much of the country, has proven difficult to tackle due to the scale, severity and complexity of the problem. Urgent action is needed, however, in order to tackle this national public health emergency, which is estimated to have claimed 1.24 million citizen livesin 2017 alone.

The air pollution agenda, per India’s major political parties:

- The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), currently in power, pledges to focus attention on India’s 102 most polluted cities, seeking to reduce air pollution levels in these mission cities by 35% over the next five years.

- The Indian National Congress Party calls to strengthen the National Clean Air Program, and supports targeting all major emission sources in order to achieve to ‘acceptable levels’.

- The Aam Aadmi Party, the ruling party in the national capital of New Delhi, promises to introduce electric buses and vacuum clean the roads, among other more aggressive measures.

As air pollution emerges as a voting issue in the national election, many citizens hope the same will soon be true in regional elections - marking a shift in the country’s approach to fighting toxic smog.

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