Delhi, 62 other Indian cities among 100 most polluted places
Delhi is the most polluted of the world's 107 capital cities in terms of yearly average PM2.5 values in 2021, said the latest World Air Quality Report. The city has topped the list for the fourth year in a row. Delhi topped the list of 92 capital cities in 2020, 85 in 2019, and 62 in 2018.
Why does this story matter?
- The Government of India previously criticized the air quality rating, claiming that it was based mostly on satellite and other secondary data without proper on-ground authentication.
- The report specifically mentions smoke from crop-burning following the rice harvest, which is a politically contentious topic with parties being hesitant to take action against farmers.
- This smoke is reportedly responsible for up to 45% of Delhi's pollution.
Rajasthan's Bhiwadi is the world's most polluted city
Nearly 63 Indian cities, mostly cluttered around Delhi, top the list of over 100 most polluted cities in the world. While Delhi's air pollution is ranked fourth in the world, Bhiwadi, Rajasthan, is the most polluted city, followed by Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, on Delhi's eastern border. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh occupy more than half of the list.
No Indian city meets WHO quality recommendations
The World Health Organisation's (WHO) threshold of 5 micrograms per cubic meter for air pollution levels has not been met in any Indian city. The average concentration is 58.1 micrograms per cubic meter, 10 times the WHO's air quality recommendations. The situation in North India is significantly worse, with yearly average PM2.5 levels of 96.4 micrograms per cubic meter.
Dhaka, N'Djamena follow Delhi in most polluted capitals
In terms of yearly average PM2.5 concentration, Dhaka came in second, followed by N'Djamena, Chad's capital. In 2021, Central and South Asia were among the regions with the world's worst air quality and had 46 of the world's 50 most polluted cities, according to the report. These cities are located in India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.
How is the data measured?
The study used data from government and private stations, as well as data collected by institutions. The analysis is measured in lethal and microscopic PM2.5 pollutant data from 6,475 locations in 117 nations, regions, and territories throughout the world, according to IQAir, a Swiss firm.
Here are the main sources of pollution
The major sources of air pollution include vehicular emissions, coal-fired power plants, industrial waste, biomass combustion for cooking, and the construction sector. Last year, several large power plants around Delhi, as well as many industries, were shut down for the first time because of severe levels of air pollution. The economic cost of the crisis to India is estimated at over $150 billion annually.
Wake-up call for government, corporations: Expert
Avinash Chanchal, Campaign manager at Greenpeace India, termed the report a wake-up call for governments and corporations. "Vehicular emissions are one of the major contributors to urban PM2.5 concentrations. With annual vehicle sales in India expected to increase, it is certainly going to impact air quality if corrective measures are not taken in time," PTI quoted Chanchal as saying.