Delhi has been ranked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the world’s most polluted city and it is estimated that 10,000 pre-mature deaths occur every year in the city due to air pollution. The Meteorological Department’s live monitoring screens, equipped with a colour-coded “Air Quality” Index(AQI) have been consistently recording a 24-hour fine-particulate pollution averages that are five to six times the permissible levels. It is also to be noted that at various points in a day, the real-time pollution levels have also been touching new peaks, at times as high as 10-11 times the permissible values. The month of December, 2014 had several bad-air days with a thick layer of smog coating the city’s landscape resulting in reduced visibility and soaring levels of pollution in the air.

16 February 2015

School Maps


Exposure to fine particulate matter pollution is the largest environmental health risk in the world, increasing the risk of lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, lower respiratory infections and asthma. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified particulate matter pollution as carcinogenic to humans in 2013, and designated it as a “leading environmental cause of cancer deaths”[1]. According to the WHO and US Environment Protection Agency, air pollution impacts are felt the most on children, leading to reduced lung functioning and development. This in turn means, Delhi’s children are going to be the worst hit. A five-day long survey conducted by us in different schools across Delhi revealed shocking levels of pollution within the school premises and it has further established the fact that children, while at school are consistently being exposed to harmful levels of pollution in the air. The rising trend in the Particulate Matter pollution, commonly referred to as PM2.5 and PM10 in the city is clearly indicating that the problem of air pollution in Delhi is only getting worse.

17 February 2015

Air pollution monitoring at Delhi Police Public School, Safdarjung Enclave © Sudhanshu Malhotra


The Supreme Court has made a note of the dreadful situation in the city and has ordered the Govt to act. The public health fraternity in the city has been expressing concerns over the increase in the number of respiratory illnesses and asthma across age groups and particularly in children and the elderly. However, there has been no substantial action from the state to bring down the toxic levels of pollution in the air.

Greenpeace as an environmental organisation believes in the right to breathe clean air and live in a safe, sustainable environment. Given the dire situation in the country’s capital, we have launched a campaign for clean air in the city with an aim to put in place immediate precautionary measures that can safe-guard the health of Delhiites on heavy pollution days. Keeping in mind the impacts on growing lungs and the urgency of the situation, we would like to specifically demand the Health Minster of Delhi and the Central Govt to pass a health advisory for schools on bad-air days. This will indeed mean reduced exposure to harmful air in school-going children.

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