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Sad but true: Pollution not a major issue for any party; Why? Because it doesn’t fetch votes


New Delhi, May 16: From national security to ensuring minimum income for the poor, from chest thumping to calling prime minister a thief, the campaigning for Lok Sabha elections touched upon all the trivial matters, but an important issue like pollution somehow got left out.

Air pollution is a serious issue that india is grappling with and it is more severe in Delhi and surrounding areas where its affects are hampering daily lives. A child born in Delhi is likely to live lesser number of years than a baby born in other parts of the India, due to sickening poor air quality. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), 37 Indian cities are among the world's top 100 cities with very high levels of PM10.

Sad but true: Pollution not a major issue for any party; Why? Because it doesn’t fetch votes

Yet, the issue hardly finds mention in grandiose poll rallies and campaign speeches. The 2018 Global Environmental Performance Index placed India at 177 out of 180 countries, down more than 20 spots from 155 in 2014. But why worry, India has jumped up by leaps and bounds in the 'Ease of doing business' rankings. All that we are bothered about is development, the GDP growth, the exports and the inflow of money, even if industrialisation is coming at a cost. A cost which may look intangible as of now but one day we will all pay, and pay a heavy price. By then it could be too late to make amends and pull things back.

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India's toxic air claimed 1.24 million lives in 2017 - 12.5 per cent of total deaths recorded that year in the country, according to a study published in Lancet Planetary Health. The study said more Indians died due to pollution than cancer, tuberculosis, AIDS and diabetes put together.

But all this has failed to draw serious attention of our politicians because this issue is not a mass vote-churner. The perception is that the problems of pollution and environment are understood by an elite few 'learned ones' whose votes are too less in number to have an impact of election outcome.

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Although pollution is a problem of mammoth proportions, but very few perceive it as a problem in a country where a large percentage of population earns just enough to make ends meet. Especially in the election season, everything is seen through a lens of vote-fetchability. Ram Temple may or may not fetch votes, but making pollution the main agenda will surely won't.

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