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Dealing With Air Pollution, Japanese Way

In a candid chat with BW Businessworld, Kenko Sone, Minister (Economic & Development) of Japan says that Japan looks forward to working with people and government of India to curb air pollution which is at the alarming stage

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A mind-set change towards air pollution is substantially required and that each person must act now and make a contribution to mitigating air pollution before it is too late.

Air pollution in India is estimated to kill 1.5 million people every year; it is the fifth largest killer in India. India has the world's highest death rate from chronic respiratory diseases and asthma, according to the WHO. In Delhi, poor quality air damages irreversibly the lungs of 2.2 million or 50 percent of all children.

The air quality in Delhi, the capital of India, according to a WHO survey of 1600 world cities, is one of the worst in the world. Two other cities in India have worse air quality than Delhi: Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, and Raipur in Chhattisgarh. Air pollution doesn’t only affect people’s lungs but also every part of human body, from hair to toenails added that living in Delhi may be the same as smoking 10 cigarettes per day and therefore, the lung diseases will be the biggest killer for the next two decades.

In November 2016, in an event known as the Great smog of Delhi, the air pollution spiked far beyond acceptable levels. Levels of PM2.5 and PM 10 particulate matter hit 999 micrograms per cubic meter, while the safe limits for those pollutants are 60 and 100 respectively.

Motor vehicle emissions are one of the causes of poor air quality. According to some reports, 80 per cent of PM2.5 air pollution is caused by vehicular traffic, though other reports suggest the percentage is lower. Other causes include wood-burning fires, fires on agricultural land, exhaust from diesel generators, dust from construction sites, and burning garbage and illegal industrial activities in Delhi.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is a governmental agency that coordinates official development assistance (ODA) for the government of Japan. It is chartered with assisting economic and social growth in developing countries, and the promotion of international cooperation. Since October 2008, JICA has become one of the largest bilateral development organisations in the world with a network of 97 overseas offices, projects in more than 150 countries, and available financial resources of approximately $8.5 billion.

With the support JICA, JICA Alumni Association of India (JAAI), an association of JICA training ex-participants, plans to provide modals to change the conditions of New Delhi on the effects and challenges faced due to severe air pollution. They focus on possible health effects of air pollution and introduced case studies, with hints and lessons learned, and countermeasures which were derived from and taken in other countries through JICA’s assistance projects. Nearly one hundred participants, including attaches from the Embassy of Japan, proactively participated in the discussions about the possibility of future collaboration between Japan and India to tackle the current air pollution situation in Delhi.

In a candid chat with BW Businessworld, Kenko Sone, Minister (Economic & Development) of Japan said that Japan looks forward to working with people and government of India to curb air pollution which is at the alarming stage. More than the government, it is people and their mindset needs to change and they should be made more aware of the hazardous impact of air pollution.

Talking with BW Businessworld, Takema Sakamoto, Chief Representative of JICA India Office introduced JICA’s experiences for easing air pollution in other countries, such as Mongolia, Thailand and China. Through those experiences, he strongly recommended taking comprehensive approach with various stakeholders, including government, the private sector, research institute and citizens, and additionally highlighted the importance of scientific analysis of the causes of air pollution as the essential first step to consider the appropriate measures.

He said that JICA’s door is always open to exploring further collaboration to reduce emissions of air pollutants from stationary, mobile and natural sources and to enhance energy efficiency and clean energy through various innovative projects.

For India, JICA has been contributing to ease the air pollution through its various projects and activities, such as the promotion of modal shift, modernization of older and inefficient facilities, the introduction of advanced technology and awareness improvement for citizens.

Tags assigned to this article:
environment air pollution jica air quality