Air pollution in India rises 13% in 5 years

Greenpeace India report blames fossil fuel use

New Delhi, January 11

The world is becoming cleaner even as India, almost as a whole, is getting a lot filthier, a new report by Greenpeace India shows.

China, which was roundly criticised across the globe for being its infamous haze and air pollution, has been steadily getting cleaner, with air pollution levels having dipped by about 17 per cent between 2010 and 2015.

The same goes for the largest greenhouse gas emitter, the US — which has seen a dip by 15 per cent — as well as the European Union, which has seen a 20 per cent decrease in air pollution between 2005 and 2013.

Indian air, on the other hand, is getting greyer. Air pollution levels have risen by as much as 13 per cent in five years between 2010 and 2015.

Monitoring mechanisms

What’s worse, will to tackle the public health crisis appears to be abysmally low.

By February 2016, India had only 39 monitoring stations in 23 cities.

Compare this with China which has 1,500 stations in 900 cities and towns; the US with 770 stations in 540 cities and towns; and the EU with 1,000 stations in 400 cities and towns.

Unlike most other ambitious nations, India has failed to set a deadline for itself to meet its national air quality standards, which are much more relaxed than those set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Most cities are failing to meet these National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) by a wide margin.

The capital Delhi, for example, has average PM10 concentrations of 268 µg/m3 — that are 4.5 times higher than the NAAQS, and a whopping 13 times higher than the annual limit set by WHO, the Greenpeace report points out.

Pollution in cities

While the public debate around air pollution has been centering around the capital, the status isn’t much better in other cities.

Predictably, Delhi tops the list of the most polluted city but, it is followed closely by Ghaziabad, Allahabad, and Bareilly 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 200 µg/m3to 258 µg/m3.

“The most polluted cities are spread across North India, starting from Rajasthan and then moving along the Indo-gangetic belt to West Bengal.

“A closer analysis of the data, obtained through RTI and previous studies on air pollution, pinpoint to continued use of fossil fuels as the main culprit for the dangerous rise in the level of pollutants in the air across the country,” the Greenpeace India report notes.

Published on January 11, 2017

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