The air quality in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, is ranked third on the WHO’s list of 15 most polluted cities and the situation is “deteriorating” as its MP has focused on beautification and infrastructure, a Delhi-based environment body claimed.
Delhi is ranked sixth on the list and there has been “laziness” on part of its elected caretakers in tackling air pollution in the city, the ‘Political Leaders Position and Action on Air Quality in India 2014-2019’ report, released by Climate Trends, said.
Fourteen of the 15 cities, including four in Uttar Pradesh, on the World Health Organisation (WHO) list of most polluted cities in the world are in India, it said. The organisation, in its report, has also listed out the proposed actions and works of respective authorities in these cities.
Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, from where Modi had won in 2014, is witnessing a rise in the number of people suffering from allergies and respiratory problems due to a “lot” of construction in the city, the report said.
“The air quality in Varanasi has been deteriorating faster than other towns in the state (Uttar Pradesh), largely due to lot of construction in the city. Doctors and residents are confirming the rise in allergies and respiratory diseases in the past few years with zero-good quality air days.
“While the state and local city governments have taken a few knee-jerk actions, the focus of the MP has been on beautification and infrastructure that do not fully address the primary causes of consistently poor air quality at the city and regional levels,” it said.
The air quality index (AQI) in Varanasi reached an alarming 490 in 2017 and 384 — very poor category — in December 2018, the report claimed.
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”, as per pollution control authorities.
Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh is the most polluted city in the world and is ranked one on the list. Faridabad in Haryana has been ranked second and Varanasi third.
Gaya and Patna in Bihar are fourth and fifth on the list, while Delhi is sixth and Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow is seventh. Cities of Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurugram, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur are also on the WHO list of most polluted cities.
The report claimed MPs of Lucknow and Kanpur — Home Minister Rajnath Singh and senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi respectively — have mostly been silent on the issue of air pollution in their respective constituencies.
The MP of Patna (former BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha) has been more interested in Delhi’s “smog politics”, it claimed.
The national capital, which occupied sixth position, has been witnessing “negligence and laziness from its elected caretakers”, the report said.
Delhi has seven MPs and an elected government with several MLAs, but “the government institutional machinery can at best be described as reactive than pro-active based on evidence available”, it claimed.
“Instead of instant relief, the city is witnessing criminal negligence and laziness from elected caretakers and their implementation agencies in the form of piece-meal, limited, and short-term impact solutions being applied,” the report said.
With the AQI of Delhi at 448, the city is faces problems of construction, garbage burning, vehicular pollution and crop stubble burning, it said, adding that the seven MPs in the national capital have taken different stands on the issue of air pollution.
The report has compiled the quotes of MPs of Delhi on the air quality issue.