Delhi has topped the list of the most polluted capital cities in the world in a recent study conducted by environment NGO Greenpeace and IQAir AirVisual.
New Delhi ranked first among 62 polluted capital cities in the report.
Gurugram in the National Capital Region (NCR) emerged as the most polluted city in the study. India has seven of the 10 cities with the worst pollution. Of the remaining three, two are in Pakistan and one in China.
Air pollution, the report says, is estimated to contribute to 7 million premature deaths every year and is the greatest environmental risk to health today.
The report accompanies an extended online interactive display of the world’s most polluted cities, allowing further exploration of air quality across different regions and subregions in 2018, a statement from Greenpeace said.
“The real-time status of all included locations, together with many more, can also be explored through the IQAir AirVisual Air Quality Map, which brings together live air quality readings in one accessible place,” the NGO said.
According to NDTV, China has made a remarkable improvement since 2013, when its capital Beijing topped the pollution charts. Beijing ranks now as the 122nd most polluted city in the world in 2018.
The report measures the air quality in terms of PM 2.5 data as aggregated through the IQAir AirVisual platform in 2018, the NGO said.
The report identified some of the major sources or causes of ambient air pollution.
“Industries, households, cars, and trucks emit complex mixtures of air pollutants, many of which are harmful to health. Of all of these pollutants, fine particulate matter has the greatest effect on human health,” it said.
“Most fine particulate matter comes from fuel combustion, both from mobile sources such as vehicles and from stationary sources such as power plants, industry, households, agriculture or biomass burning,” the report added.
Environment activists have expressed concern and said government programmes to clean air should “do more than making political statements”.
Jyoti Pande Lavakare, co-founder Care for Air NGO, told PTI that Delhi and neighbouring areas have held dubious distinction of being the most polluted places in the world, so this report is not news.
“Delhi will remain the most polluted unless we make a concerted effort on a war footing from the top down to clean the air. What we need is a Clean Air Czar - an empowered, accountable authority whose single goal is to reduce pollution in our country through measurable and time-bound actions,” she said.
“This is a national public health emergency and we cannot afford small, incremental progress. We need strong, focussed action that befits a real emergency,” Lavakare added.
Ravina Kohli, environmentalist and a member of #MyRightToBreathe campaign, also told PTI the country lacks the “political will” to make public health a priority.
(With PTI inputs)