New Delhi: Gurugram is the most polluted city in the world while Delhi is the most polluted capital in the world, a recent IQAir AirVisual, a private real-time air quality monitoring firm, and Greenpeace study has revealed. The study further states that 15 out of the top 20 polluted cities in the world are in India, validating the ongoing air pollution crisis in the country, as warned by the environmental experts.
Gurugram, also part of the National Capital Region (NCR), topped the list despite improvement in its air quality as compared to the report from 2017. The latest data compiled in the IQAir AirVisual – ‘2018 World Air Quality Report’ and ‘World’s Most Polluted Cities’ ranking, prepared with Greenpeace Southeast Asia, highlights a widespread but unequal distribution of the particulate matter less than 2.5 micron in size (PM2.5) in 2018.
Yeb Sano, Executive Director of Greenpeace South East Asia, said,
Air pollution steals our livelihoods and our futures but we can change that. In addition to human lives lost, there’s an estimated global cost of 225 billion dollars in lost labour, and trillions in medical costs. This has enormous impacts, on our health and on our wallets. We want this report to make people think about the air we breathe, because when we understand the impacts of air quality on our lives, we will act to protect what’s most important.
The database comprising of PM 2.5 data for more than 3000 cities, reminds us of grim health emergency the world faces from air pollution again after the World Health Organisation air quality database released last year. India still hosts 15 out of 20 most polluted cities in the world with Gurugram and Ghaziabad being the most polluted cities in the world followed by Faridabad, Bhiwadi and Noida being in top six with Delhi on the 11th spot. Additionally, India is also home to the 7 of the top 10 polluted cities.
According to the report, the common contributors for the high levels of PM 2.5 in Gurugram include vehicle exhaust, open crop and biomass burning, industrial emissions and coal combustion.
Frank Hammes, IQAir CEO, said,
The 2018 World Air Quality Report is based on the review, compilation and validation of data from tens of thousands of air quality monitoring stations around the world. Now everyone with a cellphone has free access to this data via the AirVisual platform. This has also created demand for air quality monitoring in cities or regions where no public data is available. Communities and organizations from California to Kabul are supplementing governmental monitoring efforts with their own low cost air quality monitoring networks, and are giving everyone access to more hyper-local information.
Beijing, once among the most polluted cities in the world ranked 122nd in the list of most polluted cities in 2018 based on PM 2.5 data. However, Beijing is still at least 5 times more polluted than the WHO annual safety limits of 10 µg/m3, the data suggests.
Pujarini Sen, Greenpeace India said,
IQAir AirVisual 2018 World Air Quality Report is a reminder to us, indicating that our efforts and actions to reduce the invisible killer – air pollution are not enough, and we need to do much more than already planned and done. If we want India to breathe clean air, it’s high time that our plans such as National Clean Air Programme, Graded Response Action Plan, Clean Air Programme become much more stringent, aggressive, legally binding and most of all implementable at ground rather than being just used a political statement without much happening at ground.
Ms. Sen concluded by citing Beijing as well as numerous cities in Europe and US as examples that India can follow, to ensure improvement in its air quality. Ms. Sen asserts that India has enough of research and studies suggesting the way ahead towards a breathable India, but questions the political will to aggressively fight the health emergency India faces today.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.