Moderate annual air quality was recorded at 29 cities, while 13 cities recorded poor annual air quality.
Mumbai: India ranked the fourth lowest out of 180 nations in terms of environment as per the Environmen-tal Performance Index (EPI), according to the latest report by Yale and Columbia universities. The report was published to coincide with the World Economic Forum gathering at Davos on Tuesday.
While India stood at 177, down from 141 in 2016, its score for air quality was recorded at a mere 5.75 out of 100.
The current state of the country’s air quality reveals that only seven cities come under the satisfactory annual average air quality, as per the latest report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Moderate annual air quality was recorded at 29 cities, while 13 cities recorded poor annual air quality.
“Despite government action, pollution from solid fuels, coal and crop residue burning, and emissions from motor vehicles continues to degrade the air quality for millions of Indians,” read the report.
The report evaluated 24 indicators including air quality, water and sanitation, biodiversity and habitat, forests, climate and energy among others.
The CPCB officials maintained that the air quality in north India shows the worst pollution level but it could be attributed to the weather conditions. Experts have stated that there has been significant rise in the PM10 level over the years, which comes mostly from dust particles.
“The pollution levels are going very high, 80 per cent of the cities that we monitored are recording levels that are officially classified as critical in terms of particulate matters. Even there are no complete data of PM2.5 for many cities. When the levels are going that higher, meeting the standard level is the need of the hour,” said Anumita Roychowdhary, head of air pollution programme, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi.
Meanwhile, D Saha, head of air quality laboratory, CPCB, said, “Although the AQI levels have decreased in certain cities, it is difficult to estimate whether or not more cities in the country now have satisfactory air quality. We have asked state governments to come up with their action plans to curb air pollution.”
No city in low pollution category, say experts
With the recent World Environment Performance Index report stating that India needs to provide urgent attention to its air quality crisis, experts have stated that number of cities with critical levels of PM10 (particulate matter) have increased over the years. As per the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a Delhi based non-government organisation, only 2 per cent of the monitored 44 cities had PM10 levels within the standard limit in 2016.
“While 60 per cent of the cities were recorded with PM10 levels above the standard in 2007, now 88 per cent of them are critically polluted. There is drastic fall in the number of cities complying with the standard limit and there no cities are in the low pollution category now,” said Anumita Roychowdhary, head of air pollution programme, CSE.
The NGO has evaluated the data by the Central Board of Pollution Control (CPCB) and Environment Ministry.
While the CPCB officials stated that they have directed all the states to come up with 42-point action plan to curb air pollution, none of the states have yet come up with the plan, except Maharashtra.
“In terms of curbing dust pollution from roads and construction work, we are formulating action plan for the creation of green buffers along the traffic corridors. We have also suggested mechanised vacuum sweeping of roads,” said D. Saha, head of air quality lab, CPCB.