At a time when air pollution in Delhi-NCR has reached an alarming level, a latest study has found that as much as Rs 1,096 crore per year could be saved if the advisories from SAFAR were followed diligently.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences has the first indigenously developed air quality forecasting framework and Delhi-NCR has been receiving inputs from it regularly.
Health impacts due to air pollution have also been well-documented.
"Even if only 5 per cent of the total population suffering from air pollution-related ailments follow SAFAR's advice and precautions, the SAFAR framework's outreach and awareness model can save the health sector an average of Rs 1,096 crore in Delhi and Rs 100 crore in Pune each year," according to SAFAR's founder project director, Gufran Beig.
The cost-savings in pulmonary (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder - COPD, and other associated ailments) diseases linked to air pollution have been considered in this study.
A crucial finding documented in this research indicates that the yearly average total cost of all ailments caused by air pollution in Delhi and Pune is around Rs 7,694 crore and Rs 948 crore, respectively.
Allergic rhinitis OPD treatment costs the highest (Rs 1,449 crore), followed by asthma (Rs 1,001 crore), and COPD (Rs 514 crore) in Delhi, all of which have grown significantly over time.
"Our findings support the notion that public knowledge and early warning remain critical components of health and economic growth. SAFAR is credited with saving 11-14 per cent of the total money spent by residents afflicted by air pollution," according to the research paper titled 'Impact of SAFAR Air Quality Forecasting Framework and Advisory Services in Reducing the Economic Health Burden of India', published in the international journal 'Regional Economic Development Research'.
"If we can raise awareness from 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the population and get more people to take measures based on SAFAR's three-day early warning system in easy steps on bad air quality days, the benefit would be quadrupled, reaching Rs 2,192 crore (Delhi) and Rs 200 crore (Pune) in a year," said Beig.
The economic benefit of SAFAR outreach attributed to prevention by intervention through an early warning based on a probabilistic scenario has been adopted in this research for two contrasting urban cities, namely Delhi (highly polluted) and Pune (less polluted), to understand the benefits and relative differences in cost, for the period 2011-2020.
The results of this framework are intended for people, decision-makers, and academics, said the study authored by Beig and his team comprising Suvarna Tikle and Ishika Ilme.
The SAFAR framework has served the nation for over a decade now, and has considerably aided in raising public awareness about air quality in four cities -- Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad -- where it is used.
As air pollution also affects many other sectors like agriculture, aviation, infrastructure, tourism, etc., there is a need to understand the economic benefits associated with these sectors in the future, concluded Beig.
( 525 Words)