Once named as the most polluted city in the world, New Delhi has fallen down to 11the position in the latest ranking released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the pollution levels. What’s shocking is that 22 Indian cities are featured in top 50 most polluted cities and 34 Indian cities have made it to top 100 most polluted cities in the world.
World’s top ten most polluted cities include four Indian cities — Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, Patna in Bihar and Raipur in Chhattisgarh. Cities like Raebareli and Varanasi are 52nd and 78th spot in the global ranking.
The current government has planned to set up 100 smart cities across the country and 17 suggested smart cities are featured in the top 100 most polluted cities in the world. Apart from improving the roads, infrastructure, and technical development, the government will also need to lay out a plan to improve air quality in these future smart cities.
What’s striking came out from the global list is that not a single city from southern India features in the list while majority of the cities are from Northern and Western parts of India.
The study was based on the data collected from the 3000 cities and villages across 103 countries during five year period between 2008 and 2013. It is to be noticed that 98 percent of cities in the global list are from low-income or middle-income countries.
PM 2.5 level in New Delhi was measured around 122 while it hovers around 9 and 15 in New York and London respectively.
Scientist used PM 2.5 levels for generating the rankings. Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 are very fine particles with diameter around 2.5 micrometres. Increment in level on PM 2.5 leads to worsening air quality and several diseases like heart disease, stroke, cancer, and respiratory problems.
“Many factors contribute to this increase, including reliance on fossil fuels such as coal- fired power plants, dependence on private transport motor vehicles, inefficient use of energy in buildings, and the use of biomass for cooking and heating,” said the report by WHO.
Another report by WHO states that 3.7 million are at risk of death due to worsening air quality.