The national capital has yet again found its place in the world's most polluted city and Mumbai is fourth. According to air quality data compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for megacities, New Delhi, Gwalior, Varanasi and Kanpur were among the Indian cities that figured in a list of 20 most polluted cities.
Other Indian cities that registered very high levels of PM2.5 pollutants were Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur followed by Ali Subah Al-Salem in Kuwait and a few cities in China and Mongolia. In terms of PM10 levels, 13 cities in India figured among the 20 most-polluted cities of the world in 2016.
Also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's signature Ujjwala Scheme came in for rich praise in a new WHO pollution report. The report nevertheless estimated that 9 out of 10 people around the world breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. Ujjwala Yojana, which it said, in just two years, has provided 37 million women living below the poverty line with free LPG connections to support them to switch to clean household energy use.
The report also said that a total of 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in the polluted air that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections, including pneumonia.
The report shows that more than 90% of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low- and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas.