According to the WHO global air pollution database, 14 out of the 20 most- polluted cities in the world in terms of PM 2.5 concentrations are in India — the worst being Kanpur with a Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 concentration of 173 micrograms per cubic metre, followed by Faridabad, Varanasi and Gaya.
A bench headed by acting NGT Chairperson Jawad Rahim allowed lawyer Sanjay Upadhyay, appearing for Vardhaman Kaushik who has filed a petition against worsening air quality in Delhi-NCR, to place on record the WHO report seeking response from the Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Bihar governments.
The states have been asked to clarify their stand by May 21, the next date of hearing. Delhi and Varanasi are among the 14 Indian cities that figured in a WHO list of 20 most-polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5 levels.
The WHO data also said that nine out of 10 people in the world breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. In terms of PM10 levels, 13 Indian cities figured in the 20 most-polluted cities of the world in 2016 — Delhi being the worst.
The Indian cities that registered very high levels of PM2.5 pollutants were: Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Lucknow, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur followed by Ali Subah Al-Salem in Kuwait and a few cities in China and Mongolia. During the hearing, Upadhyay told the bench that states should be directed to file action taken report in pursuance to the WHO report.
He said various states have filed action plan to combat worsening air quality and claimed that everything was under control, but 14 cities still figured in the list of 20 most polluted.