EMERGING POLLUTION CAPITALS OF INDIA
As Delhi chokes on bad air, other cities are not far behind
smog enveloped Delhi for about 10 days following Diwali celebrations pushing the Delhi government to declare emergency measures, several smaller cities showed up as more polluted than the national capital. This is evident from the daily Air Quality Index (aqi) that the Central Pollution Control Board (cpcb) releases for 32 cities. Worse, there is absolute silence about pollution risks in these cities.
On October 29 and 30, Kanpur became the country’s most polluted city. It scored 487 and 480 on cpcb’s aqi. Delhi scored 404 and 431 on those days. Faridabad topped the list on five different occasions between November 1 and 7, with its aqi level hovering between 453 and 493. Over the next two days Lucknow topped the list—the capital city of Uttar Pradesh scored 491 on November 8 and 494 on November 9.
In fact, Lucknow’s air worsened by three times between Diwali and the day before the festival— the level of PM2.5 in the city’s atmosphere jumped from 248.2 μg/m3 on October 29 to 672.2 μg/m3 on October 30. The concentration of PM10 increased from 360.1 μg/m3 to 863.8 μg/m3, show estimates by the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (iitr), Lucknow. Agra and Varanasi also reported high aqi levels during the period. Alok Dhaw, director of iitr, says pollution levels prevailing across north Indian states are alarming for both human and ecological health.
Such high concentrations of particulate matter in the atmosphere and calm weather make a perfect recipe for a dense smog, which is hazardous to health. As per cpcb, aqi level above 400 is considered “severe” air pollution. At this range, air pollution affects even healthy people and can seriously affect those suffering from diseases.
The situation was similar in all major cities across north India, except Rohtak and Panchkula. aqi for these cities suggest that they experienced “very poor” to “severe” air quality during the period.
In a sharp contrast, Durgapur, an industrial city in eastern India, scored 53 on aqi on Diwali day and 34 the day after, suggesting minimal impact on people’s health. aqi of port city Vishakapatnam were 74 and 96 on the two days. The figures were 162 and 114 for Nashik, which lies in the western part of the country. Even the city of Chandrapur, ill-famed for coal-fired industries, remained in the moderate category of 101 and 200 on most days in the week following Diwali.
So why did north Indian cities suffer from severe air pollution around Diwali festivities?
In land-locked north India, pollution from open fires, traffic, biomass chulhas, power plants and industry stays elevated and trapped. Windless and cool weather during the winters
On October 29 and 30, Kanpur became the country's most polluted city. Faridabad topped the list on five different days between November 1 and 7, while Lucknow became the pollution capital on November 8 and 9