66 per cent increase in respiratory deaths in Delhi

About 9,149 people in Delhi died due to respiratory diseases in 2016, up from 5,516 in 2014

By Kiran Pandey, Rajit Sengupta
Last Updated: Thursday 04 January 2018 | 06:47:31 AM
Despite the constant deterioration of Delhi’s air, the sale of vehicles—private and commercial— continues unabated. Credit: Vikas Choudhary / DTE
Despite the constant deterioration of Delhi’s air, the sale of vehicles—private and commercial— continues unabated. Credit: Vikas Choudhary / DTE Despite the constant deterioration of Delhi’s air, the sale of vehicles—private and commercial— continues unabated. Credit: Vikas Choudhary / DTE

Delhi has witnessed a 66 per cent increase in the deaths due to respiratory diseases between 2016 and 2014, suggests recently released data by the state government. The Capital recorded a worrying 9,149 respiratory deaths in 2016, up from 5,516 in 2014, the year since when air pollution level has been constantly deteriorating every year, as per the Union Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change. In 2016, Delhi not only recorded its worst air quality levels—in terms of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and PM 10—but also saw the worst smog in over 17 years.

Despite the constant deterioration of Delhi’s air, the sale of vehicles—private and commercial— continues unabated. At the same time, the operational fleet of buses has been consistently going down. On March 31, 2017, Delhi had close to 10.5 million registered vehicles—92 per cent of which are cars, jeeps, motorcycles and scooters. In 2013-14, the city had 8.3 million vehicles—26 per cent lower than 2017. While the number of cars and two-wheelers has increased from 7.9 million in 2013-14 to 9.9 million in 2016-17, the share of buses has gone down from 40,947 to 38,265 in the same period. The actual number of buses will be lower as the figure includes ambulances and other passenger vehicles.

E-vehicles still a distant dream

India was one of the first countries to roll out an ambitious target of 6-7 million electric/hybrid vehicles by 2020. However, it had only 0.12 million e-vehicles till February 28, 2017, as per Down to Earth’s State of India’s Environment 2018. Of this, Delhi had just 12,474 e-vehicles. To put it in perspective, Los Angeles added over 0.1 million in 2016 alone, which is 10 times more than the total e-vehicles in Delhi (see Unplugged).

What is worse, while Piyush Goyal, the Minister of State for Power and Renewable Energy, in August 2017, announced that India will sell and produce only e-vehicles by 2030, minister of state for heavy industries, Babul Supriyo, on January 2, told the Parliament that no such plan is under consideration.

To get your copy of State of India’s Environment 2018, India’s much awaited annual statement on environment and development, click here

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IEP Resources:

Towards a clean air action plan: Lessons from Delhi

Report on implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) and learning from first smog emergency of 2017

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  • It is an absurd article. The authors just used the numerators for comparison. Actually, the denominator, i.e. total deaths also increased over the years. Therefore one should compare the rates of deaths rather than absolute deaths. If one calculates the rate of deaths due to respiratory illnesses (respiratory deaths divided by total deaths) then would appreciate that the death rates don't vary that much across the years. The worst is that the authors purposefully compared the numerators between the years 2016 with 2014 where one can show a greater difference between them. The authors seemed to have purposely manipulated the statistics.It is nothing but sensationalized environmental journalism to the core, I would say. Didn't expect this from DTE.

    Rates of respiratory deaths for the years 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 are 62, 45, 52 & 65 respectively.

    Posted by: Thangavel | 8 months ago | Reply
    • Sir
      Thanks for writing in and while we respect your views, we do not agree with the points you have raised. A 66 per cent increase is substantial, even more so when the rise is just in two years. In the same period, Delhi’s air pollution levels have reached alarming levels. Just to put in perspective, last year, Delhi witnessed its worst air quality levels in winters which prompted the government to introduce “odd-even car scheme” to check vehicular pollution.

      We believe that your argument that annual respiratory death rates in 2013-2016 have ranged between 45 and 66 per cent further supports our story as it highlights the alarming rate at which respiratory deaths are increasing in the Capital.

      Posted by: Rajit Sengupta | 8 months ago | Reply