Although the debate over the ability of schemes like Odd Even to curb pollution in Delhi are still raging on, and the DPCC suggested farm fires and ineffective waste management as the real reasons for dip in air quality despite Odd Even scheme being in effect, there is some good news as Delhi is not the most polluted city in the world any more.

A WHO report about air quality which examined PM 2.5 (fine particulate pollution) and PM 10 (coarse pollution particles) levels in 3000 cities across the globe, found that while six Indian cities have been included in the top ten polluted cities in the world, Delhi comes ninth on the list.

b’Representational imagexc2xa0| Source: Reuters’

The report which says that 80% of city dwellers are breathing in bad air and are at a risk of life threatening diseases like lung cancer, added that the air pollution is rising at an alarming rate in urban areas of poor countries.

While the report places Zobal in Iran as the most polluted city and Sinclair in US as the least polluted, here are the top five polluted cities from India.

1. Gwalior

Global rank: 2, Indian rank: 1

Named as the most polluted city in India by the Central Pollution Control Board last year, Gwalior is the second most polluted city in the world after Iran’s Zobal. The particulate matter in Gwalior’s air was found to be 329 micrograms, which is five times that of the permissible limit.

b’Small scale industrial units are a major cause for pollutionxc2xa0| Source: Reuters’

People from the city cited rising population, unchecked vehicular pollution, haphazard development and a large number of small industrial units coming up in the cityscape, as reasons for the alarming situation, Hindustan Times reported.

2. Allahabad

Global rank: 3, Indian rank: 2

Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh is the second most polluted city of India as it comes right after Gwalior to become the world’s third most polluted city.

b’Dust particles are worsening air quality in Allahabadxc2xa0| Source: Reuters’

With as many as 7000 new diesel vehicles being registered every month, there are only 125 buses in the city, leaving three wheelers burning diesel as the only mode of public transport. In addition to that, there is no system to cordon off construction sites hence allowing dust particles to hang in the air, The Indian Express reported. Perhaps improving public transport and implementing regulations regarding construction in the state will help more than Akhilesh Yadav’s cycle tracks.

3. Patna

Global rank: 4, Indian rank: 3

Previously ranked as the second most polluted city in India, Patna is now the third worst in India and fourth in the world, while the people are still forced breathe in air with particulate matter much higher than permissible limit.

b’Representational imagexc2xa0| Source: Reuters’

While the state health minister Tej Pratap Yadav rode a horse months back to inspire people to bring down pollution levels, it would have helped if the administration concentrated on the real problem which is generators burning diesel due to a huge gap in demand and supply of electricity, Business Standard reported.

4. Raipur

Global rank: 5, Indian rank: 4

Having figured on the list of most polluted cities in the world, Chhattisgarh’s state capital has now made it to the list as the fifth most polluted city in the world and fourth in India, as a number of factors are being cited as reasons for this.

b’Representational imagexc2xa0| Source: Reuters’

Heavy industrialisation in the city and the outskirts is seen as the primary reason for the worsening air quality, as it has 39 sponge iron factories, seven power units and 250 rolling mills in its vicinity, and use outdated technology without any monitoring. In addition to this, rising number of vehicles and construction companies flouting rules are also widely responsible for the situation, The Indian Express reported.

5. Delhi

Global rank: 9, Indian rank: 5

Even as schemes like Odd Even have been imposed and diesel taxis have been banned triggering turmoil in the state, national capital Delhi still figures in the ninth position among most polluted in the world, and is the fifth most polluted city in India.

b’Fires in landfills are mentioned as cause for bad air quality in Delhixc2xa0| Source: Reuters’

With the NGT suggested that the administration focus on pollution sources like dust and burning of waste instead of spending on Odd Even, and the DPCC report said that the air quality only deteriorated during the second leg of the ambitious Odd Even scheme, it seems that Delhi still hasn’t zeroed in on the real problem.

6. Ludhiana

Global rank: 10, Indian rank: 6

Named as India’s most polluted in 2011 by the WHO, Ludhiana is now the 10th most polluted city on the globe and the sixth most polluted one in India. Although it showed some improvement in November last year, the “vehicle capital of Punjab” still has a long way to go.

b’Representational imagexc2xa0| Source: Reuters’

With 10,000 private vehicles added every month, the city has 16 lakh registered vehicles and has a poor public transport system with 120 buses, 80 short of the proposed fleet of 200. With the metro plan being dropped, 17,000 illegal diesel autos ply on the roads as the only option. A CPCB report identified 684 highly polluting dyeing and rubber making units in the city, along with bio-furnaces using fuels that release toxins in the air, The Indian Express reported.

As the air pollution levels across the world and India is rising at a terrifying rate, a closer look reveals that while state governments are coming up with “innovative” pet projects, no one is really looking at the real issues like unchecked industrialisation, waste management and lack of public transport. 

Feature image source: Reuters