Nearly 1.2 million deaths in India every year are because of air pollution, according to a Greenpeace India report titled “Airpocalypse” published on Wednesday. New Delhi tops the list of 20 most polluted cities in the country, followed by Ghaziabad, Allahabad and Bareli. The particulate matter levels in Delhi was highest, with 268 g/m3 for the year 2015 – this is 4.5 times higher than the National Ambient Air Quality Standard annual limit set by the Central Pollution Control Board.
The report is based on the data gathered from Right to Information applications from State Pollution Control Boards across India, their annual reports and their websites. It also assessed the air quality of 168 cities across 24 states and Union Territories.
“Deaths due to air pollution are only a fraction less than the number of death caused by tobacco usage,” the report read. It also said a total of 3% Gross Domestic Product of the country is lost because of air pollution. “If the country’s development is important, fighting air pollution has to be a priority,” it added said.
Though pollution in North India has garnered a lot of attention, air quality standards in the south are also poor. Only a few cities in southern India comply with air quality standards prescribed by the CPCB. ”Air pollution is no more just the problem of Northern India and Delhi. Bengaluru and many other urban centres in southern India are breathing hazardous levels of pollutants in the air,” Greenpeace campaigner Sunil Dahiya told The News Minute.
Greenpeace called for a system to monitor air quality across the country and making such data publicly available. It further said the data can be used as a basis to fine-tune pollution reduction strategies. “Our choices in terms of electricity, transportation and waste management can play a major role in managing pollution levels, as are our choices in terms of political leaders who support the goal of reducing air pollution,” the report added.