Ground Report | New Delhi: Most polluted capital; New Delhi and Bangladesh topped the list of capitals and countries with the worst air quality in 2021 for another year, according to the latest annual air pollution report published by the Swiss IQAir, a position that they have not abandoned in the last four years, amid little progress.
While Delhi’s air pollution ranks fourth globally, the most polluted place in the world is Rajasthan’s Bhiwadi, followed by Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad on Delhi’s eastern border. Ten of the 15 most polluted cities are in India and mostly around the national capital.
the lowest value in the last four years
The report said: “India was home to 11 of the 15 most polluted cities in Central and South Asia in 2021. Delhi saw a 14.6% increase in PM2.5 concentrations in 2021, with levels rising from 84 µg/a 96.4 µg/m3. m3 in 2020. No city in India met the World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guideline of 5 µg/m3. In 2021, 48% of cities in India exceeded 50 µg/m3, or more than 10 times the WHO guideline.”
New Delhi was again in 2021 the capital where its citizens breathed the worst air in the world, after registering an average of 85 μg/m3 of PM2.5 particles -the most harmful to human health-, despite the movement restrictions imposed throughout the year to combat covid-19.
A figure that represents a slight increase compared to 2020, when the total confinement that India experienced placed the air quality of New Delhi at 84.1 μg/m3 of PM2.5 particles, the lowest value in the last four years.
Before the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, these records were much higher, rising to 113.5 μg/m3 PM2.5 in 2018 and 98.6 μg/m3 PM2.5 in 2019.
periodic lockdowns and localized restrictions
Contrary to what India expected, the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) approved in 2019 to combat this problem throughout the country had little to do with this improvement, the campaign director of Greenpeace India assured Efe. , Avinash Chanchal, who attributed the drop in pollution to “periodic lockdowns and localized restrictions.”
Chanchal affirmed that this plan, pioneer in the Asian country, only achieved “slow progress” in environmental matters, due to the apathy of the Indian authorities for “implementing all the activities foreseen” in it.
The report itself points out in this regard that “there is very little information” on these activities, “which makes it difficult to reflect the public’s dissatisfaction regarding the slow progress of the program”, and warns that between 20 and 35% of India’s pollution comes from the combustion of the engines of its vehicle fleet.
Rajasthan was the most polluted regional city
And it is that air pollution is a serious problem beyond New Delhi, since 48% of Indian cities registered in 2021 a concentration of PM2.5 greater than 50 μg / m3, a figure ten times higher than the standards recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the Central and South Asia region, which includes India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Bhiwadi in Alwar of Rajasthan was the most polluted regional city, with an average PM2.5 concentration of 106.2 micrograms per meter. (Most polluted capital)