85% Indians support stricter laws to improve air quality: Survey

85% Indians support stricter laws to improve air quality: Survey

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Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 17

One of the positive spin-offs of Covid-19 lockdown has been better quality of air to breathe in. According to a new survey, majority of Indians think living in an area with high air pollution increases the risk of “catching Covid -19, be severely ill and making it harder to recover”.

There are also “high levels of support” for measures to limit air pollution, including stricter laws, when the pandemic comes to an end.

Majority of Indians have noticed an improvement in air quality since lockdown and think air quality in their local area should be improved. There is overwhelming support for policy measures to support clean air, says a public perception survey on air pollution by the Clean Air Fund (CAF) in partnership with global market research firm YouGov.

The report “Breathing Space” based on e-samples from countries like India, UK, Poland, Bulgaria and Nigeria also makes recommendations for governments to put clean air strategies at the heart of plans to rebuild from Covid-19.

According to the survey, the majority of respondents in India think air pollution directly affects their general health and is the number one public health concern alongside infectious disease. Therefore as many as 85 percent in the survey also supported stricter laws and/or enforcement of regulations on air quality.

Incentives to help people and businesses use cleaner forms of transport (e.g. cleaner vehicles, public transport, walking and cycling) and more Clean Air Zones in cities (e.g. where the most polluting vehicles are charged more) got the support from 84% respondents.

Improved public transport services (including greater service frequency) assuming effective and proportionate infection control measures are in place from 83%, repurposing roads in cities to allow more space for walking and/or cycling from 82% and the same percentage for more investment in the electric vehicle sector.

Incentives to help people use cleaner fuels in their home for cooking and heating was supported by 80% of the respondents in India according to the survey, a government scheme to replace gas boilers with electric ones by 78% and restrictions on the use of polluting fuels in homes for cooking and heating by 76%.

As much as 73% supported switching spending on new roads to spending on public transport and 59% to road pricing for private/individual’s vehicles “where you pay per mile driven”.

According to the survey all Indians think air pollution affects their general health; 94% think air pollution affects general health; 60% think it affects their general health a ‘great deal’ while 30% think it affects it ‘a fair amount’.

Vast majority of Indians are concerned about air pollution as a public health issue, putting it on a level with concern for infectious disease. As much as 86% were worried about air pollution as a public health issue. As many as 80% believe it to be on a level with infectious disease and ahead of climate change, mental health (73%), drugs and alcohol (71%), smoking (68%) and obesity (65%). 

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