Reducing transport activities, improving technologies and relocating traffic sources from crowded areas are some of the measures for better urban planning that can help Delhi combat rising air pollution, a leading health and medical research institute said on Friday.
As residents in Delhi and its suburbs continue to suffer from worsening air quality, The George Institute for Global Health in a statement said air pollution has become "one of the major public health problems in India, especially in the northern regions".
It said "sustainable public health solutions" were needed, describing pollution as the "largest risk factor for death".
"In fact, pollution kills more people than HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria put together. In economic terms, the global cost of pollution in terms of hours not worked, premature deaths, health spending and eroded quality of life has been estimated at Rs 26,760 crore a year," said the statement by The George Institute India Executive Director Professor Vivekanand Jha.
The institute warned that pollution affects all stages of life and reduces the number of years lived in full health by aggravating asthma attacks, eye and skin disorders, and increasing the risk of development of high blood pressure, obesity, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, psychiatric disorders and frailty.
"We need better urban planning starting with proper land-use assessment, reducing major transport activity close to communities, relocating traffic sources (roads, airports) from crowded areas, avoiding the mixing of industrial and residential areas, making better roads, reducing uncovered areas in cities by planting more grass and plants, improving transport technologies, and increasing awareness of the societal burden imposed by air pollution," the institute suggested.
It also suggested cutting down the usage of private and government vehicles, shutting industries that cause emission and heavy watering of the dust-paths alongside roads as a few simple steps to fight the "current public health emergency situation in Delhi.