New Delhi 15th December 2015: A ranking of the 17 cities covered by the National Air Quality Index (NAQI) was released by Greenpeace India today, and reveals data to challenge the complacence of the Central and State Governments regarding cities other than Delhi: as many as fifteen of the 17 Indian cities with NAQI stations showed levels of air pollution that far exceed the prescribed Indian standards. Indeed, the shockingly high pollution figures recorded for well over 50% of the times that data was recorded between April and November indicate the continuing severity of the Air Pollution disaster.[1]

“As the political capital – and indeed, the most polluted of all cities – the bad air in Delhi gets the most attention. But, scratch below the murky surface, and you will find concentrations of PM2.5 in several other cities – Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Muzzafarpur and Faridabad, amongst others – that would justify the triggering of a ‘Red Alert.’ Even the government’s own, largely inadequate NAQI data reveals that 23 of the 32 stations across India are showing more than 70% exceedance of the national standards,” said Sunil Dahiya, Campaigner, Greenpeace India, “The pollution levels in a few Indian cities have the embarrassing distinction of having exceeded the toxic levels of Beijing and other Chinese cities, demonstrating levels at least ten times higher than the WHO standards, making air pollution truly a national emergency.”[2]

As part of the first such initiative on analysing air pollution data, Sunil Dahiya added, “The NAQI, in its present form, fails to acknowledge the scale of the problem.  Data is only available in seventeen cities, which is a shockingly low number considering the size of our country. There is an immediate need to diversify and upgrade the manual stations to ambient air quality monitoring stations feeding data to the online NAQI portal. The existing system needs to include short and long-term solutions and advisories.”

India’s NAQI system remains poor, with most prominent cities lacking real time monitoring stations, far behind the standards followed in the top 20 biggest cities of European Union, US and China. On average, there are four air quality stations in cities in EU countries, five in US cities, and eight in Chinese cities displaying real time pollution levels,  whereas 10 of India’s biggest cities do not even have a single such monitoring station.[3]

Greenpeace is calling for an ambitious and systematic Clean Air action plan, with focused targets, clear timelines and demonstrable accountability towards public health. The right combination of policies including power generation, industry, transport and agriculture, can help India take major strides towards resolving this slow-burning disaster. “This crisis is an opportunity to test India’s emergency response plan and design coordinated action plans for a ‘Clean Air Nation,’” concluded Dahiya.

For Further information-

Madhulika Verma, Communication Specialist, Greenpeace India; 9971137736,

Sunil Dahiya, Campaigner, Greenpeace India; 9013673250;

[1] See Figure 4 here

[2] See Figure 6 here

[3] See Table 3 here

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