- Air quality improved in India in 2020 as compared to 2019
- However, still 22 of the top 30 most polluted cities globally are in India
- The major source of pollution in India remains transportation
New Delhi: India’s air quality improved in 2020 as compared to 2019, courtesy coronavirus induced lockdown, said a new report said World Air Quality Report 2020 recently. However, there is not much to cheer about as the data in the report highlighted despite improvement in the air quality, India’s 22 cities featured among the top 30 most polluted cities in the world and Delhi once again remains the most polluted capital city in the world.
The report also said that air pollution continues to present one of the world’s biggest health hazards to people everywhere, contributing to about 7 million premature deaths annually. 600,000 of these deaths are children. Highlighting how it is affecting lives, the report said, “From mental health, Alzheimer’s, and loss of vision to vulnerability to diseases such as COVID-19, 2020 brought another year of new insights into the extent to which air pollution can impact people’s health and wellbeing.”
Here are the top highlights from the World Air Quality Report 2020:
1. How Much Is The Improvement In India’s Air Quality: As per the report, in 2020, all Indian cities which were monitored observed air quality improvements of 63 per cent as compared to the year 2019
2. Most Polluted Indian Cities: While New Delhi has been tagged as the most polluted capital city in the world, there are 21 other Indian cities that features in the 30 most polluted cities in the world list – Ghaziabad, Bulandshahar, Bisrakh Jalalpur, Noida, Greater Noida, Kanpur, Lucknow, Meerut, Agra and Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Bhiwari in Rajasthan, Faridabad, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad, Bandhwari, Gurugram, Yamuna Nagar, Rohtak and Dharuhera in Haryana, and Muzaffarpur in Bihar.
As per the report, the top most polluted city in Xinjiang in China followed by nine Indian cities, in which, Ghaziabad is the second most polluted city in the world followed by Bulandshahar, Bisrakh Jalalpur, Noida, Greater Noida, Kanpur, Lucknow, and Bhiwani.
3. Major Source Of Pollution In India: According to the report, the major sources of India’s air pollution include transportation, biomass burning for cooking, electricity generation, industry, construction, waste burning, and episodic agricultural burning. The report said, “The transportation sector is one of the major contributors to India’s leading PM2.5 emission sources across cities.”
4. South Asia Remained The Most Polluted Region Of The World: The report highlighted that South Asia was the most polluted region of the world with Bangladesh, India and Pakistan sharing 42 of the 50 most polluted cities worldwide. Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Mongolia and Afghanistan had average annual PM2.5 concentrations between 77 and 47 microgrammes per cubic metre (mcg/m3) of air
5. COVID Induced Lockdown Affect On Air Pollution: The report also stressed how lockdown and strict measures taken due to coronavirus pandemic helped improved the air quality across the world. The report highlighted that air quality in 84 per cent of all the monitored countries improved. It said, “Major cities in the world in 2020 saw improvements compared to 2019. The concentration of life-shortening particles decreased by 15 per cent in New Delhi while Beijing witnessed 11 per cent less pollution. Other major cities like Chicago, London, Paris and Seoul also saw 13%, 16%, 17% and 16% less pollution, respectively.”
The report released this week is based on the world’s largest database of ground-based air pollution measurements, aggregating PM2.5 data from 106 countries, published in real time from ground-based sensors throughout 2020. This data largely comes from governmental air monitoring stations as well as a growing network of non-governmental air quality monitors.
Talking about the report findings, Avinash Chanchal, Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace India said,
While many cities including Delhi have recorded marginal improvements in air quality due to lockdowns, the health and economic cost of air pollution remains severe. It is pertinent that governments prioritize sustainable and clean energy sources, as well as the cities, need to encourage low cost, active and carbon-neutral mobility choices such as walking, cycling, and accessible public transport.
He further said,
Speeding up the transition to clean energy and clean transport not only saves lives but also dramatically reduces healthcare-related costs.
On the other hand, cautioning people and authorities about the rise in air pollution in the year 2021, CEO of IQAir Frank Hammes said,
The year 2020 brought an unexpected dip in air pollution. In 2021, we will likely see an increase in air pollution due to human activity, again. We hope this report highlights the urgent action that needs to be taken by the authorities to combat air pollution, which remains the world’s greatest environmental health threat.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.