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Uttar Pradesh India’s most polluted state: Greenpeace report

Among 280 cities in the country, Varanasi is the sixth most polluted. Hapur, Bareilly, Firozabad, Kanpur, Agra, NOIDA, Allahabad, and Mathura are also in red zone with dangerous levels of PM10 in the air.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2018 10:21 IST
HT Correspondent
File photo of smog in Ghaziabad which is the seventh most polluted city in India.
File photo of smog in Ghaziabad which is the seventh most polluted city in India. (HT PHOTO)

With 15 of its cities among 30 cities with highest levels of toxic air in the country, Uttar Pradesh is India’s most polluted state, says a Greenpeace India report.

The report - Airpocalypse II - is based on air pollution related data collected from Central and State Pollution Control Boards’ and Committees’ annual reports and their websites and through applications under Right to Information Act wherever data was unavailable or gaps existed in the available data.

The report brought out the list of most polluted cities in the country based on particulate matter data of PM10 levels for 280 cities during 2016 and in some cases also 2015, covering large parts of the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi turned out to be the worst polluted city of UP. Countrywide, it came sixth, a rung above than Ghaziabad. New Delhi topped list while Lucknow was 18th among the 30 most polluted cities and towns of the country.

Other towns and cities in UP on the list are Hapur, Bareilly, Firozabad, Kanpur, Agra, NOIDA, Allahabad, and Mathura where PM10 levels were way above permissible limits.

The report reveals that none of the 280 cities with 630 million people comply with the PM10 levels in the air as fixed by WHO at 20. A whopping 80% of these cities also fall short of the generous limit of PM10 levels of 60 set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Different cities of UP suffer from dangerously high levels of PM10 in the air. Among some of the most polluted cities are Varanasi (PM10 level at 236), Ghaziabad (236), Hapur (235), Bareilly (226), Firozabad (223), Kanpur (217), Lucknow (211), Agra (197), NOIDA (195), Moradabad (192), Allahabad (191) and Gajraula (172).

Senior Greenpeace campaigner Sunil Dahiya said that while the air pollution in UP is “highly worrisome” the actual number of people breathing toxic air would be much more.

“This data is from the 22 cities of the state where air quality monitoring systems exist whereas in the rest of the 53 districts no such equipment has ever been installed. Thus, the number of affected districts and people living there would considerably rise in case data is to be monitored throughout the state. Most of the people live in places where air quality remains unmonitored and their numbers are estimated to be over 130 million. So it is quite clear that the first step to deal with air pollution has to be installation of air quality monitoring devices in all cities and districts,” he said.

As many as 6.5 million children in Uttar Pradesh are constantly exposed to toxic air.

Greenpeace has suggested a range of measures to fight air pollution. It has called for improving public transport, limiting the number of polluting vehicles on the road , Introducing less polluting fuel (Bharat VI), strict emission regulations and improved efficiency for thermal power plants and industries, moving from diesel generators to rooftop solar, increased use of clean renewable energy, electric vehicles, removing dust from roads, regulating construction activities, stopping biomass burning etc.

But environmentalists say despite the red flag by Greenpeace, air quality may not be the government’s priority.

“Environment is not always a priority when it comes to economic development and infrastructure expansion. We are making smart cities but there is very little emphasis on developing natural capital to increase the competitiveness of our cities and towns,” said Venkatesh Dutta, faculty, an associate professor at the School for Environmental Sciences, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow.