The World Daily
2.3 million killed by air pollution in India

Delhi, India. Photo by Ravi Sharma on Unsplash.


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | MAY 19th 2022 


Coal backup has been improved at five of the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (Mahagenco)’s thermal power stations – but should it have been, in a country so ravaged by air pollution that a recent study found that it had claimed 2.3 million lives in 2019?

Beginning earlier this month, the daily supply of coal for the company in Maharashtra has been around 1.4 lakh tonnes as opposed to the typical supply of around 1.2 lakh tonnes. Given Maharashtra’s reputation as one of the most urbanised states in all of India, it may be a win for its development, but certainly not for its people.

“My husband got asthma from the polluted/dark air emanating from the power station,” said Gokulbai Sahai, a local widow, to Al Jazeera, referring to a thermal power plant in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. “We cannot see a clear sky, it is always blurred above.”

A Mahagenco official said that “The enhanced supply of coal from WCL has enabled us to have backup of seven to nine days at the five TPSs, including the biggest one at Chandrapur. Our aim is now to have a similar backup at the power stations in Nashik and Bhusawal.”

According to a new study published by The Lancet, air pollution in India is responsible for having caused the premature passings of around 2.3 million people, in 2019. That entire year, pollution was found to have had a worldwide effect of this kind on at least 9 million people. India was found to have had the largest impact on these numbers, with its loss of 2.3 million lives. 

The US, China, as well as many countries in Africa and Europe had been included among the premature deaths data in this study. The study specified that of the 2.3 million deaths in India, 1.6 million were attributed to air pollution whereas 500,000 were linked to troubles of polluted water sources.


“India has developed instruments and regulatory powers to mitigate pollution sources but there is no centralised system to drive pollution control efforts and achieve substantial improvements,” said the study. “In 93 per cent of India, the amount of pollution remains well above WHO guidelines.”

China had closely followed India in this data, having found to have suffered 2.1 million premature deaths as a result of severe pollution. The majority of these deaths, it said, were found in either low-to-middle income countries. 

Director of the Global Public Health Program and Global Pollution Observatory at Boston College, US, and co-author of the study, Philip Landrigan, said that “Pollution is still the largest existential threat to human and planetary health and jeopardises the sustainability of modern societies.”

He added: “Preventing pollution can also slow climate change - achieving a double benefit for planetary health - and our report calls for a massive, rapid transition away from all fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.”

Though the study mentioned that India had been making efforts towards alternative energy sources, as well as limiting the number of household air pollution deaths, it’s still struggling at the top of the list when it comes to fatalities and health crises related to pollution.


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2022 

Source: Al Jazeera, The Independent,  Times of India