India making serious efforts to deal with air pollution: Environment ministry
India said on Wednesday said it has made “serious efforts” to deal with air pollution, citing lower levels of particulate matter in 2017 than the previous year, as the government analysed global data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
India is home to the world’s 14 most polluted cities, the WHO said in a report on Tuesday, based on the amount of particulate matter (PM) under 2.5 micrograms found in every cubic metre of air.
“The government has made serious efforts to deal with air pollution,” the environment ministry said in a statement.
In a major step, India decided to leapfrog clean fuel standards from BS IV to BS VI in 2020, across the country.
“PM 2.5 concentration in the year 2016 was 134 micrograms per cubic metre and was 125 micrograms per cubic metre in the year 2017,” it said, referring to tiny particles which penetrates deep into the lungs and can cause many ailments including cancer.
“Similarly, for PM10 the figures were 289 micrograms per cubic metre in 2016 and 268 micrograms per cubic metre in 2017. Therefore, even PM 10 levels have come down in 2017 against 2016,” the ministry added.
Despite the fall, PM levels were much higher than the national air quality standards and several times the WHO standards. The WHO analysis also showed that Chinese cities have made tremendous progress in reducing air pollution. A graded response action plan, set of short-term measures corresponding to different pollution level slabs, was enforced in Delhi NCR in 2017 for the first time. The environment ministry has also released a draft National Clean Air Programme in April, but is yet to finalise it.