Letters to the Editor: Air pollution as a health hazard

Air pollution is a significant issue in our time, impacting both climate change and public and individual health.
Letters to the Editor: Air pollution as a health hazard

Air pollution as a health hazard

Air pollution is a significant issue in our time, impacting both climate change and public and individual health. The rise in morbidity and mortality rates can be attributed to various pollutants, with particulate matter (PM) being one of the major contributors. These tiny particles infiltrate the respiratory system through inhalation, leading to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, reproductive and central nervous system dysfunctions, and even cancer. While ozone in the stratosphere protects against ultraviolet radiation, it becomes harmful at ground level, affecting the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Other air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dioxins, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), also pose risks to human health. Carbon monoxide, in high concentrations, can cause direct poisoning. Heavy metals like lead, when absorbed by the body, can result in poisoning or chronic intoxication, depending on the exposure. These substances contribute to respiratory problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and bronchiolitis, as well as lung cancer, cardiovascular events, central nervous system dysfunctions, and skin diseases. Additionally, environmental pollution-induced climate change alters the spread of infectious diseases and exacerbates the impact of natural disasters. To address this issue, it is crucial to raise public awareness and adopt a multidisciplinary approach involving scientific experts. National and international organisations must take action to combat this emerging threat and propose sustainable solutions.

Dikshita Kalita,

Gauhati University

A ray of hope

It is heartening to note that the Government of India has put the northeastern region at the centre of its engagement with ASEAN under the Act East Policy. Your May 14 editorial, “Northeast in the India-ASEAN Trade Framework,” has rightly said that the Indian Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) has triggered export promotion hopes for the northeast region. While the entire nation has witnessed a paradigm shift in the past nine years, the rise of the northeastern region from the shadows of neglect and peril to emerge as the growth engine of India is indeed an inspiring tale of unprecedented efforts and the unrelenting will of the government led by PM Narendra Modi, who has exemplified the philosophy of 'Karma Paramo Dharma'' to work harder than ever with undeterred grit and honest intention. The Northeast region must be prepared to take advantage of the infrastructure development once it is completed and commissioned. The fiscal push is accomplished by well-targeted packages and schemes under the new Prime Minister's Development Initiative for the North East (PM-DEVINE) Scheme, which is aimed at revitalising infrastructure growth with larger projects in the northeastern states while creating livelihood opportunities for youth and women. It is now needed for the states in the region to leverage the new industrial schemes and showcase the incentives to attract investors. NE must be a key player in Act East policy, and therefore, act fast and act first should be the mantra for the NE region's journey ahead. The slogan ''Make in the Northeast'' must be able to draw the attention of potential investors to explore the business ecosystem for a larger market in the region. The PM's vision of making the North East a gateway to Southeast Asia is a must for a developed India. One thing is clear: there is no mulling over excuses as those dark days are over. The die is now cast firmly!

Iqbal Saikia,


Erosion by Brahmaputra

Through your esteemed daily, I am writing to bring urgent attention to the devastating erosion crisis unfolding along the Brahmaputra River in Assam, particularly affecting the Bandena check-bundh and posing a grave threat to nearby communities.

Recent reports have highlighted the severe erosion occurring along Bandena Spur No. 6, with approximately a 60-metre stretch already washed away before the onset of the monsoon season. Despite efforts by the Water Resources Department, including the installation of emergency measures such as PSC porcupines, geo-bags, and bamboo cribs, erosion continues to ravage the area, resulting in the loss of crucial embankment infrastructure. The response from the Water Resources Department, as detailed in their recent ‘Fact Check’ statement, indicates the seriousness of the situation. However, it is evident that more concerted efforts and resources are urgently needed to prevent further erosion and protect vulnerable communities in the Dhakuakhana subdivision of Lakhimpur district and the island district of Majuli. It is encouraging to note that officials, including the Additional Commissioner and District Commissioner of Lakhimpur, have visited the site to assess the situation. However, immediate and sustained action is required to mitigate the ongoing erosion and prevent further loss of land and property.

I urge the relevant authorities to prioritise this issue and allocate the necessary resources for comprehensive erosion control measures. The erosion crisis along the Brahmaputra demands swift and decisive action from both the government and civil society, to develop long-term solutions that address the root causes of riverbank erosion and mitigate its impact on vulnerable populations.

Ashmita Nandi,

Dibrugarh University

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