Disruptor: Smog's heavy toll on health, economic activity


By Rohit Vaid

New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS): The seasonal phenomenon of smog in Delhi-NCR has taken a toll on not just the health of the area's residents but also on the economic activity of the region as well.

The phenomenon generally occurs during the winter season due to stubble burning, vehicular pollution, and smoke emitted by burning of firecrackers, and is further aggravated via meteorological activity during this period.

It is credited for hampering some economic activities in and around north India, especially Delhi-NCR.

Experts' have termed the phenomenon as a "mild disruptor" of economic activity which impacts sectors such as tourism, construction, aviation, insurance, and real estate.

Besides, the phenomenon has been cited by experts to partially lead human capital away from the area.

This trend has gained acceleration given the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The biggest impact is obviously on the health of the people of NCR. The mortality rate has gone up in the last few years due to pollution-induced illness. The economic loss because of this seems to be the most," Skymet's Chief Executive Yogesh Patil, told IANS.

"Apart from this, I see the rapid talent drain from senior management or even highly skilled resources from NCR due to rising issue of pollution levels."

Emkay Global Financial Services' Lead Economist, Madhavi Arora, said: "Delhi is bearing massive losses to its economy, per capita income and productivity because of the health impact and consequent loss of human capital due to air pollution."

"Sectors like tourism, residential real estate amongst others are taking a hit, further acting as a drag to economic growth."

Furthermore, the mobility of the area's residents start to get impacted due to the phenomenon, said Acuite Ratings & Research Chief Analytical Officer Suman Chowdhury, adding that this impacts contact intensive sectors such as retail and hospitality.

Notably, these sectors are currently recovering from the impact of a prolonged pandemic.

"There is also a significant effect on the local tourism industry as both domestic and foreign travellers tend to avoid visits during these times of heavy smog," he said.

On the other hand, smog triggers a phenomenon known as 'Escape' tourism.

"We are witnessing a trend of 'escape tourism' in metros like Delhi, where increasing level of pollution has tourists flocking to destinations like Goa in search of fresh air," ixigo Group CEO and Co-Founder, Aloke Bajpai, said.

"Beach destinations are a favourite pick amongst travellers this Diwali."

Additionally, the phenomenon propels the consumer durables' industry to innovate newer products for air purification.

Consumer durables major Panasonic India's Business Head, Air Conditioners Group, Gaurav Sah, said: "We have been focusing on innovations related to improving indoor air quality, keeping in mind deteriorating air quality."

"Earlier this year, we introduced air conditioners with air purification technologies. These improve indoor air quality through the year."

In addition, sales of indoor plants such as 'snake plant' know to reduce indoor air population increases drastically due to the phenomenon.

 

  

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