India’s air pollution problem has gone from bad to worst for the year 2021 according to a report by Swiss firm IQAir ending the 3-year streak of improving air quality. India is the 4th most polluted country on Earth and Delhi is the most polluted capital city on earth with the pollution increasing by 15% on year to year basis. Delhi’s average air quality is over 20 times the safe limit prescribed by WHO.
The average air pollution for other Indian cities is over 10 times the safe limit, with no Indian city having pollution under the safe limit. 10 out of the 15 most polluted cities on Earth are from Delhi and the surrounding extended NCR region while most of the top 100 polluted cities on Earth are from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. 5 out of the 6 metro cities in India have shown a trend of increase in air pollution with the exception being Chennai.
The major source of air pollution includes vehicular emissions, coal power plants, and construction dust with crop burning during the winter season being the aggravating factor by increasing the pollution levels by a whopping 45%.
Pollution levels are having an immense impact on both the finances and the public health aspect of the country. Monetary losses are estimated to be around 150 billion dollars while the life expectancy of the people is decreasing by a whole decade in Delhi and surrounding areas.
Government efforts at both the Central and State level are abysmal with them passing the buck to each other to stop this menace. The earlier air pollution report was denied by the Central government on the account of it being a satellite-driven study with no hard ground-based data. However, this report will be hard to deny as most of the data is through ground-based sensors with half of them being operated by the Government.