Delhi, India — The Most Polluted City In The World

Environmental concerns have drastically increased in India as a World Health Organization‘s (WHO) survey determined that New Delhi is currently the world’s most polluted city. Prakash Javadekar, India’s health minister has stated his commitment to confront the problem “better than the rest of the world has ever done,” hoping to remove Delhi’s standing as the most polluted city in the world.

According to his interview with British newspaper The Guardian, Javadekar says the Indian government would start keeping a “composite, comprehensive” air index. This comes as a welcome move, especially since India’s record-keeping for pollution data isn’t as thorough as that of other countries in the vicinity, such as China.

The WHO 2014 survey revealed that India’s capital, Delhi is not only the most polluted city in the world, but it contains six times WHO’s maximum recommended levels of the dangerous particulate, PM2.5. This means that on average there are 153 micrograms of this particulate annually.

The WHO’s survey also revealed that out of the 20 most polluted in the world, 13 of them are in India. How surprising is it that the most polluted city in the world would then fall within India’s borders? It’s evident that this is having an effect on the population, as India also has some of the highest deaths due to respiratory disease in the world.

Delhi, India -- The Most Polluted City In The World - Clapway

An expert from third-party research group Urban Emissions, Sarah Guttikunda has stated, “We have been saying that pollution is very bad and now we’ll be able to see that. It’s a first step but it’s not going to solve the problem by itself.”

The harmful air is also becoming a political issue after years of being on the back burner. Many Indian newspapers discussed the issue this week, and several stories made the front page. The Indian Express discussed the effects of pollution on children in Delhi. Children in the area were found to suffer from severe lung problems such as asthma, and other problems such as hyperactivity and hypertension. In addition, it was found that the damage to the lungs could be permanent for these children.

Minister Javedkar stated, “Clean air is a priority. We are giving high priority to this. It has not been handled correctly over the last 10 years.” Expert Guttikunda stated that even though improved record-keeping would help, the problem wouldn’t easily be solved. Many Delhi officials also refuted the WHO’s findings, and didn’t feel their city was more polluted than Beijing, for example. Still, Delhi has stated that although it’s important to curb pollution, it won’t act in ways that undermine the elimination of poverty.

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