Vard­han’s com­ments at­tract barbs

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - METRO -

NEWDELHI:“Is there any ev­i­dence that In­di­ans have a special set of lungs (to sur­vive air pol­lu­tion)?” asked Kirk R Smith, pro­fes­sor of Global En­vi­ron­men­tal Health, re­spond­ing to Union en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Harsh Vard­han’s state­ments that “to at­tribute any death to a cause like pol­lu­tion may be too much”.

Smith is one of the au­thors of the

which es­ti­mated In­dia ac­counted for 2.5 mil­lion of the 9 mil­lion deaths caused by air pol­lu­tion world­wide.

Re­spond­ing to the Lancet study, Vard­han said, “To at­tribute any death to a cause like pol­lu­tion, that may be too much. Ul­ti­mately these stud­ies have to be In­dia cen­tric.”

In fact, peo­ple in In­dia are more vul­ner­a­ble to the ad­verse health af­fects of pol­lu­tion than the global pop­u­la­tion be­cause they are of­ten more mal­nour­ished and have poor ac­cess to health­care, said Smith.

“We all pre­fer lo­cal (In­dia-cen­tric) in­for­ma­tion, but are you go­ing to deny the in­for­ma­tion that the world is re­ly­ing upon. Are you go­ing to re­pro­duce these stud­ies to gen­er­ate val­ues for ev­ery vil­lage and district of In­dia? This is not pos­si­ble,” he said.

For­mer en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Jairam Ramesh said, “Re­cently, a state­ment was at­trib­uted to the (en­vi­ron­ment) min­is­ter that a sur­gi­cal strike is not pos­si­ble on pol­lu­tion. I don’t think any­body is ask­ing for a sur­gi­cal strike. But one is cer­tainly ask­ing for recog­ni­tion that this a very se­ri­ous pub­lic health is­sue.”

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