A recent study reveals India's air quality is among the worst in the world.
The study, conducted by economists at the University of Chicago, Havard and Yale, also states that the increasing amount of pollutants in the air reduces the lifespan of individuals by up to three years.
The World Health Organisation has ranked India as the most-polluted country in the world. Out of the twenty most-polluted cities in the world, thirteen are in India alone, with capital city Delhi emerging at the worst-ranked.
The study has been published in this week's "Economic & Political Weekly". The report further states half of India's population reside in areas where air pollution is at levels that pose direct threat to their lives. The study says that if the amount of pollutants are brought under control, about 3.2 years can be added to the total lifespan of the people in the area.
"India's focus is necessarily on growth. But for too long the conventional definition of growth has ignored the health consequences of air pollution," said Michael Greenstone, an author of the study and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, The Times of India reports.
India also ranks first among all countries in the number of deaths due to respiratory diseases.
"This study demonstrates that air pollution retards growth by causing people to die prematurely. Other studies have also shown that air pollution reduces productivity at work, increases the incidence of sick days, and raises health care expenses that could be devoted to other goods," Greenstone added.
Rohini Pande, an author and director of "Evidence for Policy Design" at the Harvard Kennedy School, said India should gift its citizens happier and healthier lives to lead in a cost-effective manner.
The authors of the study offer a three policy solution which could help the multi-cultural country become free of pollution.