The air quality condition of the city raises many questions as the recent Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) database developed by University of Chicago clearly points out that the air pollution is likely to affect the life expectancy in Vidarbha districts from 2.9 years to 3.7 years. As per the data, the districts of Amravati and Buldhana districts show the least adverse impact of air pollution on life expectancy of people, that is, 2.9 years. On the contrary, when it comes to other nine districts of the region, life expectancy is likely to get adversely affected by a minimum of three years.
The data reflects number of years (life expectancy) an average citizen loses in Vidarbha region due to air pollution. Gondia, Bhandara, Nagpur, Chandrapur, Wardha, Gadchiroli, and Yavatmal have some of the worst numbers of loss of life expectancy due to air pollution. In Nagpur and Vidarbha, due to construction activities, increase in vehicle density, and emissions mainly from coal-fired power generation plants are said to be reasons behind high concentration of particulate matter in the atmosphere. Particulate Matter (PM) pollution is widely believed to be the ‘deadliest form of air pollution’. PM2.5 is a term that refers to particulate matter in the atmosphere, with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is the diameter that is about 3 per cent of the diameter of a human hair.
Energy Policy Institute University of Chicago (EPIC) India had released a report on the Indo-Gangetic (also referred to as North Indian plains) and observed that life expectancy ‘is being shortened drastically due to fall in air quality’. AQLI translates particulate pollution concentrations into the impact on lifespans. As far as Nagpur is concerned, if Nagpur meets national standards for air quality (40 µg/m3), life expectancy may increase by 0.8 years. If it meets WHO standards (10 µg/m3), life expectancy of Nagpurians may increase by 3.9 years. However, at present, the loss of life expectancy is pegged at 3.4 years. AQLI provides a reliable measure of the potential gain in life expectancy communities could see if their pollution concentrations are brought into compliance with World Health Organisation (W HO), national, or some other standard.