A study published in The Lancet has revealed that pollution caused more than 2.3 million premature deaths in India in 2019, the highest number reported from any country.

The worldwide death toll was approximately 9 million which essentially implies that "one in six deaths "happened due to pollution. Nearly 1.6 million deaths were due to air pollution, while 500,000 were caused by water pollution.

The study from the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health was published on Tuesday. It included countries like China, US and many African and European countries, wrote The Independent.

"India has developed instruments and regulatory powers to mitigate pollution sources but there is no centralised system to drive pollution control efforts and achieve substantial improvements," said the study. "In 93 percent of India, the amount of pollution remains well above WHO guidelines," it added.

It further stated that more than 90 percent of pollution-related deaths happened in low-income and middle-income countries, with India coming on top of the list followed by China with 2.1 million deaths.

India is also home to 12 of the most polluted cities in central and south Asia, according to a report released by IQAir in 2021. A recent study had found that air pollution can reduce the life expectancy of nearly 40% of Indians by more than nine years if steps are not taken to tackle it immediately.

The study, conducted by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), added that India's air pollution levels have "alarmingly expanded geographically over time."

The report added that air pollution is most severe in the Indo-Gangetic Plain which constitutes areas like New Delhi. Burning of biomass followed by coal combustion and crop burning were some of the top causes of air pollution in the country.

Professor Kalpana Balakrishnan, one of the authors of the study, has emphasised that there is a need for a radical shift in the approach to pollution management efforts if we wish to prevent people from dying, according to a report in The Indian Express.

India pollution
A man holds a poster during a protest against pollution in Delhi, India Cathal McNaughton/ Reuters