Economic Externalities - Air Pollution in Kolkata

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Economic Externalities - Air Pollution in Kolkata

By | Jan. 2013
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Air Pollution in Kolkata – an economic analysis

According to statistics released by the Scientific and Environmental Research Institute, quoting government figures, Kolkata had a suspended particulate matter (SPM), the measure of pollution, at a steep 511 compared to Delhi's 234 and Mumbai's 322. That earns Kolkata the crown for the most polluted city in the country – a distinction reserved for New Delhi for last few years. Mumbai is the second most polluted city after Kolkata in terms of air pollution. Now Delhi ranks third while among all areas of the country following Chennai at fourth position; Vadodara is the safest city to live in. The figures above are not merely some figures taken out from some fanciful statistician’s workbook, they mean much more to those who are affected. Kolkata now accounts for more deaths due to lung cancer and heart attack than any other city in the country including the capital city of Delhi, which had the highest level before Kolkata overtook it. More than 18 persons per one lakh people in Kolkata fall victim to lung cancer every year compared to the next highest 13 per one lakh in Delhi, according to environmental scientist and advisor of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI), Twisha Lahiri (1). The most affected are children; apart from the life threatening diseases mentioned above, many of them suffer from lifelong ailments as such Asthma. People exposed to prolonged periods to this pollution, the roadside hawkers, shop owners, traffic policemen, auto-rickshaw drivers, rickshaw-pullers and others who spend long hours on the road, were the most vulnerable. Like children, they also face very high risk of potentially devastating health consequences of the pollution. So what causes this negative externality and inefficiency? Why the problem propped up to such a level? What measures can restore the health of such a common property resource like air? Major producers of the air pollution are vehicle operators in Kolkata...