New Delhi: In a recent study conducted by environment NGO Greenpeace, Delhi has emerged as the most polluted capital in the world in 2018, with Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida and Bhiwadi among the top six worst-affected cities.
“Delhi is still the most polluted capital across the world, but India has much more polluted geography than the capital city with limited but increasing data availability for hazardous PM2.5 particles,” the report said.
The latest data compiled in the IQAir AirVisual 2018 World Air Quality Report, prepared in collaboration with Greenpeace Southeast Asia, reveals the state of particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution last year.
“The database comprising of PM2.5 data for more than 3,000 cities reminds us of grim health emergency the world faces from air pollution again after the World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality database released last year,” a statement from Greenpeace said.
Once considered the most polluted city in the world, Beijing has shown remarkable improvement in air quality and ranked 122nd in the list.
“IQAir AirVisual 2018 World Air Quality Report is a reminder to us indicating that our efforts and actions to reduce the invisible killer, ie, air pollution are not enough. If we want India to breathe clean air, it is high time that our plans becomes much more stringent, aggressive, legally binding and most of all implementable at ground,” Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace India Pujarini Sen said.
The report identified some of the major sources of ambient air pollution in India.
“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,” the report stated.
Executive Director of Greenpeace South East Asia Yeb Sano said air pollution stole our livelihoods and our futures, but it was not difficult to change the scenario.
“In addition to human lives lost, there is an estimated global cost of $225 billion (Dh826 billion) in lost labour, and trillions in medical costs. This has enormous impacts on our health and on our wallets,” he said.
Environmentalists here believe that there are multiple lessons that India can learn from China.
“The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) recently launched by Ministry of Environment and Forest in India seems to be improving on the data availability and transparency among other things which is another key aspect which helped Beijing fight the battle to reduce air pollution levels,” environmentalist Sunil Dahiya said.
He said India should set specific targets for pollution reduction rather than given a wide window for specific cities. “Make the pollution reduction targets legally binding on the polluters and authorities, so that compliance can be achieved in aggressive and efficient ways,” Dahiya added.
Environmentalist Ajitabh Kant said India should set emission reduction targets and consumption caps on polluting fuels.
“Emission reduction targets should be set from coal, diesel etc. in polluted geographies. Also we need to adopt a regional and air-shed approach while targeting aggressive pollution reduction for polluted cities,” Kant said.