New Delhi: It’s not just about Delhi. None of the 168 Indian cities monitored comply with the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, Greenpeace said on Wednesday.
The study — Airpocalypse — is based on the data sought through different sources and the Right to Information (RTI) Act for 24 states and union territories.
“The major reason of unbreathable air is fossil fuel,” study says.
Greenpeace added that while no cities meet the WHO standards, only a few cites in southern India, like Warangal in Telangana, meet the National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQ) standards.
“We have been talking only about Delhi being polluted. But what about other cities which are equally polluted,” Sunil Dahiya from Greenpeace said.
Delhi, as per the study, tops the list of 20 most polluted cities, with PM10 (particulate matter less than 10 mm in the air) levels between 168 and 268 units, for the year 2015. This was 4.5 times of the NAAQ standards and 13 times the WHO standards.
According to Greenpeace, air pollution leads to loss of three per cent of country’s GDP and causes 1.2 million deaths anually.
“There was lot of ambiguity in the data of different agencies and it was not shared with the researchers. We had to obtain data for 48 cities through RTI,” Dahiya said.
Delhi is followed closely by Ghaziabad, Allahabad and Bareily in Uttar Pradesh; Faridabad in Haryana; Jharia in Jharkhand; Alwar in Rajasthan; Ranchi, Kusunda and Bastacola in Jharkhand; Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh; and Patna in Bihar, with PM10 levels ranging from 258 to 200 units.
As per WHO’s prescribed standards, PM10 and PM2.5 (particles with diameter less than 2.5 mm) should be 50 and 25 units annually, while as per NAAQ, it should be 60 and 40 units, respectively.
“In 2016, severe air pollution disrupted everyday life, especially during the winter. In 2015 air pollution (PM2.5) levels of India overtook even China,” study says.
It adds that even though pollution levels are increasing across the country, the emphasis so far has been on Delhi, while the pollution levels in other states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are also increasing.
Calling for a comprehensive policy to tacle air pollution by shifting to clean technologies at a war-footing level, the study says that the country is yet to come to the understanding that air pollution is a national problem.