Airpocalypse: Assessment of Air Quality in 168 Indian cities by Greenpeace India

Damning information obtained by Greenpeace India through online reports and Right to Information applications from State Pollution Control Boards across India, shows that none of the Indian cities comply with standards prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO)

New Delhi | January 11, 2017 | Damning information obtained by Greenpeace India through online reports and Right to Information applications from State Pollution Control Boards across India, shows that none of the Indian cities comply with standards prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and very few cities in southern India comply to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) standards. The information was revealed in a report titled ‘Airpocalypse’ [1] that assesses air quality in 168 cities across 24 states and  union territories and pinpoints fossil fuels as one of the main culprits for the deteriorating air quality across the country.
“Air pollution is a national public health crisis as almost none of the cities have bothered to keep air pollution in check, making them unlivable. We are facing an apocalypse right now due to unbreathable air, Deaths due to air pollution are only a fraction less than those due to use of tobacco yet  authorities are laying a deaf ear to the numerous scientific reports that have set alarm bells ringing.,” says Sunil Dahiya, campaigner, Greenpeace India.   
The top 20 most polluted cities have PM 10 [2] levels between 268 µg/m3and 168 µg/m3 for the year 2015. While, Delhi tops the list with 268 µg/m3, it is followed closely by Ghaziabad, Allahabad, and Bareli in Uttar Pradesh; Faridabad in Haryana; Jharia in Jharkhand, Alwar in Rajasthan; Ranchi, Kusunda and Bastacola in Jharkhand; Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, and Patna In Bihar; with PM10 levels ranging from 258 µg/m3to 200 µg/m3.
Fossil fuels are the culprit
The report also mentions the sources of pollution in several cities based on review of earlier research available. The most polluted cities are spread across the North India, starting from Rajasthan and then moving along the Indo-gangetic belt to West Bengal. A closer analysis of the data obtained through RTI and previous studies on air pollution pin-point to continued use of fossil fuels as the main culprit for the dangerous rise in the level of pollutants in the air across the country
Further explaining the report which was aimed at highlighting the fact that air pollution needs to be addressed as a national problem, Dahiya says: “India’s pollution trends have been steadily increasing, with India overtaking China in number of deaths due to outdoor air pollution in 2015. India’s deteriorating air quality demands an urgent robust monitoring system.”
Last month, the Supreme Court approved the ‘graded response system’ to tackle air pollution in Delhi. Greenpeace India welcomes the move, but maintains that the system needs to be implemented across the country, coupled with robust monitoring systems in place so that people can have access to real time data on the level of pollutants in the air. “This report clearly shows that air pollution is not restricted to Delhi. Thus, our pollution reduction strategies needs to be much more ambitious, systematic and with focused targets with clear timelines. Accountability and compliance mechanism should be in place, with no leniency towards the fossil fuel dependant sectors such as, power and transport.”

For more information, please contact:

Madhulika Verma, Communication Specialist, Greenpeace India, 9971137736;

Sunil Dahiya, Campaigner, Greenpeace India, 9013673250;

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Notes for the editor:
[1] Airpocalypse Report Link- http://bit.ly/2j6A87e
[2] PM10 & Pm2.5 Facts: Visible smoke is comprised of particles of PM10 size or larger. The particles with the greatest health effects are those within the “respirable range”, that is between PM10 and PM0.1. The respirable range contains particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs and deposit there; particles smaller than PM0.1 are usually exhaled. Fine and ultra fine particles (PM2.5 and PM 0.1) are not visible to the eye (2.5 microns is approximately 1/30th the size of a human hair). For further details refer to: http://www.unep.org/tnt-unep/toolkit/pollutants/facts.html
[3] World Bank Report- https://storage.googleapis.com/planet4-india-stateless/2018/05/700040v10ESW0P0box0374379B00PUBLIC0.pdf
[4] 1.6 Million more people die due to air pollution in India and China; Greenpeace India:  http://bit.ly/2ggfzAv