‘Don’t panic’ says In­dian min­is­ter as smog cri­sis deep­ens

Manila Times - - WORLD - AFP

NEW DELHI: In­dia’s en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter has said the coun­try’s claim­ing only “rou­tine pre­cau­tions” were needed to cope with what doc­tors have called a pub­lic health emer­gency.

Harsh Vard­han con­trasted the pol­lu­tion chok­ing large swathes of north In­dia, in­clud­ing the cap­i­tal, with the 1984 gas leak in Bhopal that killed at least 25,000 peo­ple and re­mains the world’s worst in­dus­trial dis­as­ter.

Bhopal, he ar­gued was “an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion where you have to panic and you have to see what you have to do,” he said in an in­ter­view pub­lished on the CNN-18 news chan­nel web­site on Tues­day.

But on the cur­rent smog cri­sis he said: “I’m not say­ing we shouldn’t do any­thing about it, every­one has to re­spond to what he is sup­posed to do. But there is no need to spread panic among the peo­ple.”

Vard­han said “rou­tine pre­cau­tions” were all that were needed to cope with lev­els of dan­ger­ous - ceeded World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion safety guide­lines many times over ev­ery day for the past week.

In­dia’s lead­ers have been crit­i­cized for fail­ing to do more to tackle ris­ing pol­lu­tion lev­els, off the lives of its cit­i­zens.

A re­cent re­port in the Lancet med­i­cal jour­nal said pol­lu­tion had claimed as many as 2.5 mil­lion lives in In­dia in 2015, the high­est in the world.

In Delhi on Tues­day, lev­els of PM2.5—the tiny par­tic­u­lates that are most harm­ful to hu­man health—were around 400 ac­cord­ing to the US em­bassy web­site, well into the “haz­ardous” cat­e­gory.

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