India on Thursday ruled out the findings of the World Health Organization (WHO) that ranked New Delhi as the world’s worst city for air pollution, with government scientists saying the UN agency had overestimated levels in the Capital.
This occurred even as environmentalists reacted strongly and said it confirmed that Indian cities are becoming death traps.
“This database confirms our worst fears about how hazardous air pollution is in our area. Last yr, the Global Burden of Disease study pinned outdoor air contamination as the fifth biggest cause of death in India after high blood pressure, indoor air pollution, tobacco smoking, and poor nutrition; about 620,000 early deaths occurred in India from air contamination-related diseases in 2010.
Eighteen million years of healthy lives are lost due to illness burden that enhances the economic price of pollution,” said CSE director general Sunita Narain.
The latest urban air quality study released by the WHO has stated that India appears among the group of states with highest particulate matter (PM) levels. Besides, its urban centers suffer the highest levels of PM10 and PM2.5 (particles with a diameter of 10 microns and 2.5 microns) when compared to other urban centers.
Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 13 are in India, it alleges. “Delhi is not the dirtiest… certainly it is not that dangerous as designed,” said A.B. Akolkar, a member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board.
Beijing, notorious for smog, was in 77th place with a PM 2.5 reading of 56, little over one third of Delhi’s level. However, Gufran Beig, chief project scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said Delhi’s air quality was better than Beijing’s, at least during summers and the monsoon.