That Toxic Haze

Mumbai: Swiss firm IQAir in its ‘World Air Quality Report’ released named India as the eighth most polluted country in the world in 2022, up from fifth last year. India has 39 out of 50 cities in the list of most polluted cities in the world.

Chad, Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Kuwait, India, Egypt and Tajikistan round out the top 10 most polluted countries, while Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland and New Zealand meet the World Health Organization (WHO) PM25 guideline.

Data for 131 countries was derived from more than 30,000 ground-based monitors. According to the report, the transport sector in India causes 20-35 per cent of PM2.5 pollution, while other sources of pollution are industrial units, coal-fired power plants and biomass burning.

The two top most polluted cities, Lahore in Pakistan and Hotan in China, are followed by Bhiwadi in Rajasthan at the third place and Delhi at the fourth place. The report states that Delhi’s PM2.5 level is almost 20 times higher than the safe limit. Delhi has so far been the world’s most polluted capital and the report has drawn a distinction between ‘Greater’ Delhi and the capital city of New Delhi.

The peripheral areas of the national capital – Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram and Faridabad – have seen a drop in pollution levels. Delhi has seen a drop of eight per cent. The report states that more than 6 million deaths occur every year due to poor air quality worldwide.

The total economic cost, the report said, is equivalent to more than $8 trillion, which is more than 61 percent of global annual GDP. According to the report, 31 cities, including 10 cities in Uttar Pradesh and seven cities in Haryana, have seen a drastic drop in pollution levels.

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