At a PM10 level of 290, Delhi has topped the list of most polluted cities in the country followed by Faridabad, according to the latest report released by Greenpeace based on the annual average of 2016-15.
The report, named “Airpocalypse II”, collected data on PM10 levels from NAMP (National Air Quality Monitoring Programme) stations, instituted by Central Pollution Control Board, spread across the country. The data was collected through RTIs, government websites and annual reports published by the government authorities. (PM10 refers to particles of diameter less than 10 microns. They are comparatively large-sized particles that are generally related to construction and factories.)
Three cities of Uttar Pradesh made it to the top ten most polluted cities of the country with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi being the most polluted city in the state. The report claims UP is the most polluted state of the country with cities like Ghaziabad, Hapur, Bareilly, Firozabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Agra, Noida and Allahabad having dangerous levels of PM10 particles.
Out of 280 cities for which the PM10 data was available, 228 cities were not complying with NAAQ (National Ambient Air Quality Standards) standard of 60 µg/m³ as prescribed by CPCB for annual permissible levels. None of the cities was complying to the WHO’s set annual standard of 20 µg/m³, the report said.
Rajasthan’s Bhiwadi is the third worst polluted city and Patna the fourth. Dehradun marked Uttarakhand’s debut in the top five list with PM10 score of 238 in 2016 contrary to previous year’s 190.
Kerala is the least polluted state in the country, the report said. In all the 14 districts of the state, NAAQ standards are complied with and had lower concentrations of PM10. However, all the cities surpassed the PM10 standards prescribed by WHO.
Out of the 630 million Indians covered by the data, 550 million live in areas exceeding national standard for PM10, and 180 million live in areas where the air pollution levels are more than twice the stipulated standards, the report said.
The report stressed the need to have a robust monitoring of air quality through a mechanism installed across the country. It further emphasized on the improvement of already established monitoring systems, providing access to data to the public on a real-time basis, issuing red alert and health advisories during bad air days and upgrading of public transport by switching to clean energy.
Earlier in the month, Environmental Performance Index’s latest rankings, released on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, ranked India the fourth worst country in the world in terms of curbing environmental pollution.