New Delhi: Byrnihat in Meghalaya topped the list of the most polluted cities in India in 2023, closely followed by Begusarai in Bihar and Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh, according to a report released on Wednesday (January 10). Delhi, known for its persistently high air pollution levels during winter, ranked as the eighth most polluted city, according to the report by the independent think tank Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA). Sunil Dahiya, South Asia’s analyst at CREA, said 227 cities with air quality data available for over 75 per cent of the days in 2023 were studied.
Among these cities, 85 were included under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). The data showed that 78 out of the 85 NCAP cities had PM10 levels exceeding the NAAQS (60 microgrammes per cubic metre).
The NCAP, initiated in 2019, aims for a 20-30 per cent reduction in PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by 2024 in 131 cities that hadn’t met prescribed air quality standards from 2011 to 2015.
The government has now set a new target of achieving a 40 percent reduction in particulate matter concentration in these cities by 2026. Mr Dahiya said,
After five years of the NCAP implementation, only 44 cities out of the 131 non-attainment cities have concluded the source apportionment studies. Due to the absence of these studies, 64 per cent of the funds allocated under NCAP have been utilised solely for dust mitigation and ineffective solutions like smog guns, resulting in inefficient use of public funds.
The CREA report revealed that only 37 NCAP-covered cities achieved PM10 levels below the annual targets set by the programme. Interestingly, in 2023, 118 cities not yet part of NCAP breached the national air ambient quality standards for PM10. Mr Dahiya emphasised,
This indicates that cities not included in NCAP aren’t necessarily cleaner.
Only seven of the 20 most polluted cities in India are currently under NCAP.
Byrnihat, covered under NCAP, registered the highest annual average PM10 concentration at 301 microgrammes per cubic metre, while Silchar in Assam reported the lowest PM10 level at 29 microgrammes per cubic metre in 2023.
Begusarai in Bihar (average annual PM10 level of 265 microgrammes per cubic metre) and Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh (228 microgrammes per cubic metre) secured the second and third positions among the most polluted cities.
Among the top 50 polluted cities, 18 are in Bihar, eight in Haryana, and eight in Rajasthan.
The report highlighted that PM10 concentration in the top 10 polluted cities was notably 3-5 times higher than Indian NAAQS and exceeded WHO limits by 13-20 times.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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