Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, recently announced on Twitter that Delhi is no longer among the world’s most polluted cities. Kejriwal shared an infographic related to an article by Hindustan Times that lists the top 10 most polluted cities in the world, as compiled by the Swiss air tracking index IQAir, a real-time air quality monitor. The ranking considers data from the Central Pollution Control Board to measure air quality in India. Kejriwal credited the efforts of Delhiites for this improvement and expressed the hope that Delhi will soon be among the cleanest cities in the world.
The announcement by Kejriwal came amidst growing concern over the air pollution levels in Delhi. On February 13, Mumbai overtook Delhi as the most polluted city in India and was ranked third globally in terms of air pollution. Lahore currently tops the list in Pakistan. According to the US air quality index, cities are categorized as healthy, unhealthy, or hazardous based on their air quality.
According to the Hindustan Times report, Mumbai came in at number 10 for the worst position on January 29. On February 2, it rose to the second position before tumbling over the following few days. After then, it retook the second rank on February 8. On February 13, it surpassed Delhi as India’s most polluted city. This information refutes Kejriwal’s assertion that Delhi is no longer one of the most polluted cities in the world.
The air quality index (AQI) indicates how clean or polluted the air is in a particular location. The AQI takes into account six primary pollutants: particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3), and carbon monoxide (CO). These pollutants can cause health problems such as lung damage, respiratory illnesses, and cardiovascular disease.
In India, there is a significant problem with air pollution. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), 14 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities are located in the Indian subcontinent. According to another finding in the research, ninety percent of the world’s population is subjected to potentially lethal levels of air pollution, which is responsible for almost seven million premature deaths each year.
The Indian government has taken several steps to combat air pollution. For example, the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) was launched in January 2019 to reduce air pollution levels in 102 cities by 20-30% by 2024. The NCAP is a comprehensive plan that includes measures such as increasing the number of monitoring stations, promoting public awareness, and reducing emissions from vehicles and industry.
Despite these efforts, air pollution in India remains a significant problem. A report by Greenpeace India found that air pollution caused an estimated 1.24 million deaths in India in 2017, Equivalent to 12.5% of all deaths in the country. The report also found that 7% of India’s GDP is lost due to the health costs of air pollution.
The reasons for air pollution in India are varied and complex. However, one major contributor is emissions by vehicle. According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), India has the world’s second-largest fleet of motor vehicles after China. The report states that vehicular emissions account for 28% of PM2.5 pollution in Delhi. Other contributors to air pollution include industrial emissions, crop burning, and dust from construction and roads.
In conclusion, the announcement by Kejriwal that Delhi is no longer among the world’s most polluted cities is a positive development.