100 most polluted places: According to an IQAir analysis, Delhi is the world’s most polluted metropolis for the fourth year in a row, with pollution increasing by over 15% over the previous year.
According to the World Air Quality Report produced by IQAir, a Swiss company, India’s air pollution will deteriorate in 2021. This marks the conclusion of a three-year upward trend in air quality. The average level of air pollution, as measured by the fatal and minuscule PM2.5 pollutant, is 58.1 micrograms per cubic meter, which is more than ten times higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) air quality limits. In India, no city reached the WHO criterion.
North India is far more dangerous. For the fourth year in a row, Delhi is the world’s most polluted metropolis, with pollution increasing by about 15% over the previous year. The yearly average for PM2.5 was 96.4 micrograms per cubic metre, which was about 20 times higher than the WHO’s safety recommendations. The acceptable maximum is five. While Delhi ranks fourth in the world for air pollution, the world’s most polluted location is Rajasthan’s Bhiwadi, followed by Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad on Delhi’s eastern border. Ten of the top 15 most polluted cities in the world are in India, largely in and around the national capital.
Indian cities lead the list of the top 100 most polluted areas, with 63. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh account for more than half of the total. According to a University of Chicago air quality ‘life index,’ inhabitants in Delhi and Lucknow, for example, could add roughly a decade to their life expectancy if air quality levels reached WHO criteria.
Vehicle emissions, coal-fired power plants, industrial waste, biomass combustion for cooking, and the construction industry are the biggest contributors of air pollution. Indeed, due to extreme levels of air pollution, many huge power plants near Delhi, as well as several businesses, were shut down for the first time in November last year. The economic impact of the crisis to India is projected to be more than $150 billion each year. The health impact is significantly worse, with an estimated three fatalities per minute connected to air pollution, in addition to heart and lung ailments and a variety of other serious health consequences.
Except for Chennai, all six metro cities showed an increase in air pollution levels last year.
Surprisingly, official figures for 2021 reveal that air quality in Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai has deteriorated. According to a recent statement in parliament, ‘poor’ to severe air quality days totaled 168 in Delhi last year, up from 139 the previous year, a 21% increase in one year; Kolkata had 83 such days compared to 74 the previous year, and Mumbai had 39 compared to 20 the previous year.
However, when queried about India’s dismal performance in an earlier edition of the World Air Quality Report in 2020, the center denied such a rating, claiming that it was based mostly on satellite and other secondary data that had not been checked by “adequate ground-truthing.”
According to IQAir, their data is “exclusively” dependent on ground sensors, and almost half of them are managed by government organisations throughout the world.
The study specifically mentions smoke from crop-burning following the rice harvest, a politically delicate topic with parties often hesitant to take action against farmers. According to the paper, this smoke is responsible for up to 45 percent of Delhi’s pollution, particularly in rice fields near the city during the winter months. Farmers do this because there is only a little time between harvesting and seeding the following crop to get rid of the stubble.
What has changed is that, for the first time since 2014-15, when the World Health Organization declared Delhi to be the most polluted city in the world, both Punjab and Delhi are controlled by the same political party, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Punjab is where the majority of crop-burning occurs, and the attention now shifts to what the AAP does to minimize air pollution this year and beyond. Following the AAP’s recent victory in Punjab, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told NDTV that farmers should be considered as an asset rather than a burden.
According to the IQAir study, air quality in China improved more in 2021. Indeed, its capital Beijing has maintained a five-year trend of improving air quality, which the study attributes to pollution management and reductions in coal power plant operations and other high-emission businesses. In addition, Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu, has the cleanest air in India. Even yet, this is three times the WHO’s safe threshold.