- On November 10, Ghaziabad was second most polluted city with an AQI of 485
- Tourism spots like Varanasi, Agra saw very poor levels of air quality
- Lucknow witnessed severe levels of pollution with an AQI of 404 on Nov 14
New Delhi: Delhi’s air pollution has been hogging all the headlines but what has gone unnoticed is the state of Uttar Pradesh. The air quality of Uttar Pradesh is worse than Delhi. Over the past few days, cities like Ghaziabad, Lucknow, Noida, Agra, Kanpur, and Varanasi have turned into gas chambers and have Air Quality Index (AQI) between ‘Very Poor’ to ‘Severe’.
Ghaziabad has been India’s most polluted city six times in the last few days. According to the data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), on November 10, Ghaziabad was the second most polluted city with an AQI of 485 and PM2.5 being the prominent pollutant. On November 15, the average AQI was 418 whereas Delhi had a very poor AQI of 361.
Noida which is adjacent to Delhi has also been under severe category and is still facing poor levels of pollution. Though in the past few days, the situation in Noida has improved but it is still under ‘very poor’ category. On November 10, the average AQI was 470 which fall under ‘severe’ category. The AQI has dropped down to 367, but the condition remained ‘very poor’.
Tourism spots like Varanasi and Agra have fared badly too. Varanasi was India’s most polluted city on November 10 with an AQI of 491. The AQI slipped down from ‘severe’ to ‘very poor’ and the AQI on November 14 was 376.
In Agra, one in 3 days, this year saw the level of PM2.5 at a severe concentration levels. The city has shown improvement but the AQI is very close to that of Delhi’s where experts have declared a health emergency. On November 10, the AQI was 404, which falls under ‘severe’ category. But just as in Delhi, the pollution levels eased a bit and AQI from severe has settled to be ‘very poor’ at 354.
Capital city of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, has also been breathing in contaminated air. On November 14, the average AQI was 268, which falls under ‘poor’ category but the very next day it shot up to ‘severe’ levels of AQI at 404.
The industrial city of Kanpur too has been faring poorly like other cities of the state. On November 10, the average AQI was a severe 461. This week the AQI is in the ‘very poor’ category.
The two major reasons behind toxins in Uttar Pradesh’s air are traffic congestion and construction activities. Recently National Green Tribunal (NGT) slammed the Uttar Pradesh government and the Noida authority for not banning construction in Delhi-NCR despite NGT’s order and alarming levels of pollution. NGT also said that the government is making a mockery of the system.
The question to be asked is what is the Uttar Pradesh government doing? The Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath asked municipal corporations to ensure waste is not burnt. The Chief Minister has also directed decongestion of Kaisarbagh bus stand in Lucknow. But are these measures enough? An analysis of budget document this year shows an enormous cut in budget in the allocation to the state environment department under the head solutions to air and water pollution. Last year budget was ₹4.5 crore and this year it is ₹50 lakhs. That is a massive 90% cut in the budget.