In­dia launches new air qual­ity in­dex in the world’s most pol­luted cap­i­tal


In­dia’s prime min­is­ter sug­gested Mon­day the coun­try’s “age- old tra­di­tions” could be used to ease its chok­ing smog, as he launched a new air qual­ity in­dex for the world’s most pol­luted cap­i­tal.

Naren­dra Modi pro­posed mak­ing ev­ery Sun­day “bi­cy­cle day” and switch­ing off street lights dur­ing a full moon, amid grow­ing public con­cern over the im­pact of air pol­lu­tion on the health of In­dia’s 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple.

“There can be green so­lu­tions in our age-old tra­di­tions,” he said in a speech at a con­fer­ence of en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­i­cy­mak­ers in the cap­i­tal New Delhi.

“What if our city gov­ern­ments ... de­cided not to switch on the street lights dur­ing a full moon?” he said.

“It is only a small thing, but you can imag­ine how much en­ergy could be saved and emis­sions could be cut if all the street lights were switched off dur­ing a full moon.”

The gov­ern­ment said the new in­dex would ini­tially cover 10 cities — Delhi, Agra, Kan­pur, Luc­know, Varanasi, Farid­abad, Ahmed­abad, Chen­nai, Ban­ga­lore and Hy­der­abad — each of which would have mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions with Air Qual­ity In­dex dis­play boards.

The gov­ern­ment is un­der in­tense pres­sure to act af­ter the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion last year de­clared New Delhi the world’s most pol­luted cap­i­tal.

At least 3,000 peo­ple die pre­ma­turely ev­ery year in the city be­cause of air pol­lu­tion, ac­cord­ing to a joint study by Bos­ton-based Health Ef- fects In­sti­tute and Delhi’s En­ergy Re­sources In­sti­tute.

Modi also sig­nalled that In­dia would not bow to for­eign pres­sure on tack­ling cli­mate change, ahead of U.N.-led talks late this year in Paris on re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Prakash Javadekar said the new in­dex could drive ef­forts to ease air pol­lu­tion.

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