Blog by Tanzeel Merchant,  Toronto-based architect, urban designer, writer, financial advisor, and flâneur, and founding Executive Director of the Ryerson City Building Institute, a multi-disciplinary centre focused on urban issues relevant to city regions globally.

“…Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 8.57.32 AM.pngAir pollution can’t be taken lightly. It is directly responsible for increased levels of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. It affects the world we live in too, harming animals and stunting plant growth. This is quite different from global warming and rising greenhouse gas levels, where countries continue to defer action and blame each other for the problem. Air pollution in India is a local, not a global problem that can be solved by your city and state governments .

“…For every tough problem, especially those caused by humans, there are always solutions.

  • Industry needs to be more tightly regulated, and clean technologies should be both incentivised and made compulsory.
  • Better planning will also reap rewards. Compact urban communities, better energy standards for buildings, urban forests, and near-urban green sanctuaries will clean our air and increase biodiversity and our quality of life.
  • In addition, prioritising rapid urban transit, walking and cycling networks in cities over the individual’s use of a car will reduce pollution, but also increase economic and health outcomes.
  • Urban and agricultural waste collection must be improved, with open-air incineration prohibited and recycling made the norm.
  • Lastly, and importantly, as cheap as coal and natural gas are in producing power, what you save in electricity, you pay in lost years of your life. As the need for electricity grows in cities, clean, renewable power is mandatory, and not a nice-to-have.

“The fixes are simple, and well within the grasp of our local governments. Inaction is not a solution. If you live in an Indian city, every breath you take is killing you. If you don’t ask for action now, there will be no tomorrow.”

Forbes-India. Read the full column on
Gasping Tiger – Breathing Heavy in India