Environment

Air quality in Delhi worse than Beijing, finds Greenpeace

Air quality in Delhi worse than Beijing, finds Greenpeace

Air quality in Delhi worse than Beijing, finds Greenpeace  

New Delhi: Delhi is without doubt the most polluted city in the world. The situation has become so bad in Delhi that even an average day in Delhi may be labeled as bad-air day in Beijing, the second most polluted city in the world.

But unlike Beijing, government in Delhi is not that much concerned about either the air quality or the health of its residents. This is the reason that many health issues are becoming very common. Asthma has hit the city like never before and a disproportionately large number of people are now reaching hospitals complaining severe asthma.

Now Greenpeace India has said that a five-year plan was needed to fight air pollution in the Indian capital. The green NGO, which has collated data from various studies to give perspective about Beijing and Delhi in terms of parameters of pollution and mitigation plans, said Delhi’s air pollution is worst than that of the Chinese capital and called for stringent targets for industrial emissions and an action plan to protect citizens from air pollution.

delhi pollutionWhile talking about the development Greenpeace India said, “New Delhi is breathing the most polluted air in the world, according to WHO report in 2014. The WHO found that 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India, with New Delhi’s air being the world’s worst…While Beijing’s air quality has made headlines worldwide, a range of studies, backed by the government’s own data, shows that New Delhi’s air is often worse than that of Beijing”.

The NGO while further talking about the development said that examination of pollution figures collected and based on bad and good air quality days from Beijing and Delhi suggests that on an average, Delhi’s air is more laden with dangerous PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter than can penetrate deep into the lungs) than Beijing’s. Observing that an average day in Delhi would be considered a very bad-air day in Beijing, Greenpeace India said despite the capital’s air pollution, there was hardly any emphasis on it in the Union Budget, and funding given to pollution control board was not enough to address a problem of this scale.

Greenpeace is working hard to create awareness about pollution in India. The NGO said Delhi also does not have Health Advisories or Action Plans in place, which is contrary to Beijing, which has a four-level alarm system to tackle heavy pollution episodes. “There should be stringent targets for industrial emissions. We need an action plan similar to that of Beijing. It should include an emergency alert system that issues health advisories to public on heavy pollution days along with instructions for industries to cut down emissions. “Delhi had several bad-air days in 2014 for which no health advisories were issued. We have no emission standards for coal-fired power plants in India, a sector responsible for emitting 7,500 tons of PM 2.5 into the city,” Greenpeace campaigner Aishwarya Madineni said.

New Delhi’s pollution levels are dangerously high. Noting that Delhi’s PM 2.5 levels are several times higher than those of Beijing as per the data submitted by Pollution Control Board to WHO, Madineni said despite this, the Environment Ministry continues to be in denial of the fact that we are taking worse care of our citizens than Beijing. “It is appalling to see the Union Environment Minister dismiss any need for precautionary measures such as masks or school closures on heavy pollution days,” she said. The green body said government needs to show it cares for its citizens – children, the sick and elderly who are at most risk from Delhi’s toxic air.

Government seems to be sleeping as far as pollution in India is concerned. The Central Pollution Control Board reported Delhi’s average PM 2.5 level in 2013 as 153 ng/m3, based on hourly measurements at six different stations which is 15 times the WHO guideline and 3.8 times the national standard while Delhi’s average is also 80 per cent higher than the average in Beijing, it noted. As per a recent study published in the Atmospheric Pollution Research Journal, an international journal on air pollution and atmospheric processes, the Nation Capital Region in Delhi faces the highest health risks from air pollution.

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