Give us today our daily threat

  • 30/07/2004

Twisha Lahiri works at the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute in Kolkata. For some years now, she has been busy measuring the impact of air pollution on people in Kolkata and Delhi. Her results should worry us: 56 per cent of people in Kolkata and 46 per cent in Delhi she studied, suffered from impaired lung function. These were non-smokers. When she compared these results to a "control" population - from rural and suburban areas, not so exposed - she found a palpable difference. This isn't surprising. We know that the air in our cities is foul.

But what we also know is we are doing too little, too late, to tackle this problem. I was in Kolkata recently. Shocked at how black the air was, I constantly found myself repeating this homily. But I also realised that even the current prescriptions for air pollution control will not suffice here. Campaigning to clean up Delhi's air, the Centre for Science and Environment has constantly discussed the need to "leapfrog", beyond the current roadmap in the motorised industrialised world we grimly mimic. Europe may adopt Euro IV emission and technology norms today. Delhi is at the Euro II level

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