New Delhi: United Nations Environment chief Erik Solheim has expressed confidence that India can tackle air pollution just like the country eradicated polio and successfully tackled various health emergencies. Terming the pollution problem as a ‘crisis’ and a global public health emergency, Solheim urged the government, policy-makers, scientists and civil society to work as a team in mitigating the problem.

The UN chief asserted that public support is essential in mitigating air pollution. Meanwhile, the air quality in the National Capital region remained “severe” on Sunday due to unfavorable weather conditions. The significant rise in instances of stubble burning has also added on to the pollution levels, stated authorities.

The air quality in the national capital has remained in the “severe” category for the past two days. The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi stood at 642 on Thursday, a day after Diwali, thus making it the polluted day of the year. In view of the situation, the Environment Pollution Control Authority urged the departments concerned to extend the date of the ban on construction activities, industries that use coal and biomass as fuel and entry of trucks till November 12.

Solheim stated that the problem of poor air quality is not confined to Indian cities alone but is a global threat. The World Health Organisation in a recent global conference on air pollution considered the issue to be on par with tobacco in posing as a threat to human life.

There is no “magic single solution” to the problem, but rather a range of actions that can be taken by individuals, city authorities and governments, said the UN Environmental chief.

(With Agency inputs)