The air pollution levels in India went from bad to worse in 2021, bringing an end to a three-year trajectory of improving air quality, as per the World Air Quality Report released by IQAir, a Swiss firm, on March 22. According to the report, India is the fifth most polluted nation among 117 nations, regions, and territories worldwide. The country's annual average PM2.5 levels went up to 58.1 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) in 2021, going back to its pre-quarantine concentrations estimated in 2019.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that average annual readings of small and hazardous airborne particles called PM2.5 need to be no more than five micrograms per cubic meter after making changes to its guidelines during 2021.
India Is Home To 63/100 Most Polluted Cities
India had 11 out of the 15 most polluted cities in South and Central Asia during 2021. What is more concerning is that no city in India met the WHO air quality guideline of 5 µg/m3. Furthermore, 48 per cent of the country's cities exceeded 50 µg/m3 in or above ten times the WHO guideline last year.
If the annual average of PM2.5 is considered in India, all six metro cities except Chennai in Tamil Nadu witnessed an increase in air pollution levels in 2021. National Capital Delhi was followed by Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai. India, with 63 cities, now dominate the list of 100 most polluted places, with more than half being in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, reported NDTV.
New Delhi Is The World's Most Polluted Capital
Indian national capital topped the list of polluted capital cities globally for the fourth consecutive year in a row. Delhi recorded a 14.6 per cent spike in PM2.5 concentrations last year, with levels rising to 96.4 µg/m3 from 84 µg/m3 in 2020.
On the list, Delhi was closely followed by Dhaka (Bangladesh), N'Djamena (Chad), Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Muscat (Oman) and Kathmandu (Nepal). All the six capital cities registered an average yearly PM2.5 concentration above 50 µg/m3.