It’s not just Delhi, most Indian cities have polluted air

by Takshak Dawda , 30 Dec 2015

It is not just the capital city of Delhi that’s synonymous with air pollution. The vast majority of Indian cities fail a pollution check.

As is known the dangerous level of toxic particulate matter (PM) has led to the Supreme Court banning diesel-engined vehicles above 2000cc and the introducing the odd-even numberplate formula in Delhi and the National Capital Region. However, it is not just Delhi that is breathing noxious air.


Earlier this month, Greenpeace India, the independent global environment body, conducted an air quality monitoring test which revealed that major cities such as Bangalore are also another Delhi in the making. The test was conducted at major Bangalore landmarks – from Christ College to the Reserve Bank of India – which revealed PM10 readings massively in violation of national and international safety standards.

Cities like Patna, Gwalior, Raipur and Ahmedabad are also considered to be the most polluted in the world.

In 2014, a list of 20 most polluted cities published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014 included 13 Indian cities! Surprisingly, it did not include any Chinese cities. The reason is that the list compared cities based on the level of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the air. 


Despite the best efforts of international bodies like WHO, Indian air quality data is sparse.

In April 2015, the Indian government launched a National Air Quality Index (NAQI) in 10 cities and plans were made to beef up the monitoring systems in the country’s 46 most populated cities.

The initiative is actually being rolled out, but there a couple of noteworthy issues with the data being produced. For one, the government said all cities covered under the NAQI should have at least 6 monitoring stations, but it’s nearly six months later and Delhi’s the only place meeting that target with Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Pune having less than the required monitoring stations.

A live air quality of your city can be found here

Despite the radical measures of diesel bans and odd-even formulas, it remains to be seen how much of an impact it would have on the air-quality. However, if it does tend to improve the air-quality, it is about time that other cities follow suit.