Air pollution, the theme of World Environment Day 2019, has brought to limelight how it is slowly turning into a major health problem in the Northeast, where deaths due to acute respiratory infection (ARI) are on the rise.
The National Health Profile (NHP), 2018, released by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) last year, reported that in Assam, 225 deaths were (highest in region) due to ARI in 2017, followed by Mizoram (36), Manipur (23) and Tripura 21 deaths. Nagaland recorded nine deaths, Sikkim (8), Meghalaya (7) and Arunchal Pradesh (3).
In 2016, Assam recorded 200 deaths due to ARI, Mizoram (68), Sikkim (43), Manipur (21), Tripura (7) and Arunachal Pradesh (4). However, Nagaland didn’t record any death due to ARI that year. The NHP, 2018, highlighted that Meghalaya had the highest number of ARI cases (3,33,772) cases among eight states in the region in 2017. Tripura, with 1,78,570 ARI cases, is in the second position followed by Sikkim (93,270), Manipur (51,205), Arunachal Pradesh (36,250), Nagaland (31,158), Mizoram (29,595) and Assam (22,834).
State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority ( SEIAA) chairman KG Bhattacharyya, who attended a World Environment Day programme organized by the Pollution Control Board, Assam, expressed concern over the increasing trend of particulate matter (PM10) in five cities and towns of Assam namely Guwahati, Nalbari, Nagaon, Silchar and Sivasagar. Bhattacharyya stated that particulate matter (PM2.5) pollutants are more dangerous than PM10 level in the air.
Former Meghalaya governor RS Mushahary shared the government has to do a lot for fulfilling the ‘Pollution Free Environment’ agenda. He added that citizens also have to be involved in achieving this goal.