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World Air Quality Report

2021 MAR 17

Preliminary   > Environment and Ecology   >   Pollution   >   Air pollution

Why in news?

  • India has been ranked the third-most polluted country in the latest edition of the World Air Quality Report, prepared by Swiss group, IQAir.

About the report’s findings:

  • The report, released by IQAir, focusses on the concentrations of particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of 2.5, which is considered extremely harmful for human’s lungs.
  • According to the report, 63 per cent of Indian cities reported improvement in annual PM2.5 levels over the previous year's averages, but the air quality is still noxious.
  •  As many as 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities, in terms of annual PM2.5 average, are in India.
  • Delhi ranked as the 10th most polluted city and the top polluted capital city in the world.
  • As per the report, the topmost polluted city in Xinjiang in China followed by nine Indian cities.
  • Ghaziabad is the second most polluted city in the world followed by Bulandshahar, Bisrakh Jalalpur, Noida, Greater Noida, Kanpur, Lucknow, and Bhiwani.

Why India’s ranking is low?

  • Reliance on coal to generate power: Burning of coal for electricity production is a principal contributor to ambient PM2.5 emissions in India. Coal-based power plants continue to dominate India’s electricity scenario.
  • Stubble burning in North India: As many as 13 of the top 15 polluted cities in the world are in North India, where farmers in states like Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Rajasthan burn crop residue to clear fields to grow future crops. This agricultural practice commonly affects air quality across borders in the last three months of the year, as well as in January.
  • NCAP's slow implementation: The slow implementation of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) is also a reason for India’s poor performance. Launched in 2019, NCAP aims to cut PM2.5 and PM10 levels in 102 Indian cities by 20-30 per cent by 2024, compared to 2017 concentrations.  The efforts to clean the air under NCAP slowed un 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic situation, according to the officials.
  • Vehicle exhaust: Transportation and industry continue to dominate PM2.5 emissions in urban areas. The two sectors are one of the leading contributors to PM2.5 pollution in key Indian cities.
  • Biomass burning for cooking: Biomass cookstoves are the principal source of indoor air pollution in India. While the government promotes access to clean fuels through various schemes, biomass remains the major cooking fuel in rural India, particularly harming women’s health.

Prelims Question

Consider the following statements regarding World Air quality Report 2020:
1.Delhi is the most polluted city in the world in terms of PM2.5 pollution.
2.It is published by UN environment program.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a)1 only
(b)2 only
(c)Both 1 and 2
(d)Neither 1 nor 2

Answer to the Prelims Question