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Ministers differ on global reports on air pollution deaths

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Two Union ministers today offered differing views on global research reports attributing over a million deaths in to air pollution.

Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave downplayed these findings, saying does not work on reports from "outside" and trusts its own reports.

Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said pollution destroys lungs of children and can also be a "killer" as he asserted that any report coming from bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO) should be taken "seriously".

"We do not work on reports from outside. trusts its own reports. We decide based on our own reports. Pollution is a subject and (people) are affected due to it. We will stress on research done by Indian institutions," Dave said when asked about the recent reports.

Asked if the reports were not correct, he said, "I am not saying that. People can make reports."

Asked whether he thinks pollution is a cause for death, Dave said, "No that is not the (only) reason. There can be various other reasons."

His remarks come after a recent study, 'State of Global Air 2017', stated that surpassing China, India now accounts for the maximum number of premature deaths from air pollution in the world.

It also noted that both India and China together accounted for 52 per cent of the total global deaths attributable to PM2.5 and recorded some 1.1 million early deaths each due to it in 2015.

Meanwhile, Harsh Vardhan said that as a doctor, he felt that pollution is a cause for "real worry".

"Pollution starts destroying your lungs. It starts affecting the lungs of young children, the kids, the infants, when their lungs have not developed that immune system or the capacity to fight it out, and many times, it can be a killer also.

"A lot has been done and is being done and is being planned, thought of and implemented. But there is still a need for a lot more to be done. Anything which is being published by the WHO, as a person who has worked with the WHO for many years, I feel that it should be taken seriously by everyone all across the world," he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier said that air pollution is killing nearly eight lakh people annually in the South East Asian Region with India alone accounting for over 75 per cent of the casualties caused by cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 17 2017. 18:42 IST