Scientific development in developed countries has gone as fast as population growth in underdeveloped countries. The two factors are equally responsible for pollution of different kinds. Increase in production means increase in factories, mills, petrochemical set ups and huge industrial complexes. Almost all of these belch out smoke that pollutes the air inside the complex and of the neighboring area.
Many factories manufacture deadly chemicals and fertilizers. The worst tragedy in the chemical industry took place in Bhopal in 1984.45 tonnes of Methyl Isocynate (MIC) flew out of the Union Carbide Factory. The air was so polluted that 2500 people died re very day. Lakhs of people within an area of 40 km suffered from ailments of eyes, throat and lungs. Many such cases in small factories where only a few people are affected are never reported.
With the increase in population we require more sources of transport. By 1994 more than 2 crore auto vehicles were registered in the country. Delhi was expected to have near about 25 lakh. In 1999 it crossed the crore marks. These scooters, mopeds, cars, buses and trucks increase the quantity of sulphur dioxide, other oxides, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere in cities and the villages around the highways. Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad in the west, Kolkata in the east, Jaipur, Kanpur, Lucknow and Delhi in the North, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad in the south and Nagpur in the central part of the country are the most polluted cities where the air pollution is between 47 and 871 tonnes a day.
Meat processing is also responsible for air pollution. An average American’s yearly meat processing requires burning 190 liters of petrol. It has been realized that many such processing activities are a part of the life in developed countries. They consume more of petrol and diesel. The developed countries are now in a position to shift dirty industries to third world countries. India is a target for it after adopting the liberalization policy.
The air is polluted by the smokers—both in rural and urban area. Efforts have been made by the Government and Non-government Organizations to stop this nuisance. But it has not been taken up as a serious problem. People are seen smoking even in the Air-conditioned compartments. It requires a consciousness among the people that even passive smoking i.e. remaining in the company of those who smoke, is injurious for health.
A summit was held at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in 1992. It was attended by 178 countries. The participants realised the gravity of the problem. The 27 point Rio declaration was backed by all the countries. The Summit gave an opportunity to all the countries to start thinking in this direction. It has made people conscious of the forthcoming tragedy if they do not pay attention to this calamity. The second summit was held in 2002 in Johannesburg in South Africa.
Some people think that road transport is responsible for air pollution the most. Either the automobiles should have perfect appliances that don’t pollute air or the very dependence on petrol and diesel should be left. It does not mean that we should go back to the mule age. But we can replace petrol derivatives with batteries or solar plants.
According to a Supreme Court order diesel has been replaced by CNG in Delhi to stop air pollution.
A study of the Asian Brown Haze was released by Scientists working with the United Nations Environment Programme in August 2002. It said that a 3 km deep pollution blanket is moving over South Asian Countries and India. It contains ash, acids, aerosols and other particles. The group of scientists included Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen of the Max Plank Institute for chemistry in Germany, Prof. V. Ramanathan of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in the USA and A.P. Mitra of the National Physical Laboratory of India. Their finding was that in India this type of air pollution was responsible for 24,000 annual premature deaths in 1990s. By the end of next decade the death rose to 37,000 per year because of respiratory disease. It was pointed out that the pollution haze may travel half way round the globe. Its effects would intensify over the next 30 years.