The air above urban India is worsening. And the Capital is leading the way with its old city recording the highest pollution level in the country, said a report of the Central Pollution Control Board.
The report, accessed exclusively by HT as it has not been made public yet, said there has been a 19 per cent increase in air pollution in urban areas with 70 per cent of locations above critical levels.
Chandni Chowk topped the list of 10 most polluted areas, moving up five positions from the previous list. Janakpuri debuted in the list, making it two for Delhi.
The environment watchdog measured respirable suspended particulate matter — whose presence in the air beyond a certain level causes respiratory diseases like asthma — at 357 locations in the country in 2008.
“Particulate matter level in most locations showed an upward trend,” said pollution control board chairman SP Gautam. The watchdog blamed it on rising vehicular population, congestion and increasing industrial activity.
Car and two-wheeler sales are increasing at an annual rate of around 15 per cent but every year, increase in road capacity is of less than one per cent, said Anumita Roy Chowdhury of the advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment.
“The Ring Road in Delhi was built with a carrying capacity of 75,000 vehicles during peak hour,” she said. “It now carries over 160,000 vehicles.” The solution, both Gautam and Chowdhury agreed, lay in switching to public transportation.