New Delhi, the capital of India with a population of about 25 million holds the dubious honor of being the worlds most polluted city. Based on a Greenpeace India report published in January 2017, The Times of India reported that as many as 1.2 million deaths take place every year due to air pollution in India.
The Greenpeace report based on assessment of air pollution levels for Delhi showed only a few cities in South India complied with air quality standards prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The New York Times cited the combination of rapid industrialization and population growth as the main causes of air pollution.
Furthermore, particles released from vehicles, factories and dust enter the bloodstream through the lungs and can cause various health problems like increased the risk of stroke and heart failure, and severe respiratory problems, like asthma and pneumonia.
CNN reported in November 2016 that measurements taken at the US Embassy in Delhi put the city’s Air Quality Index at 999, while the standard chart finishes at 500 which is deemed “hazardous”. By comparison, the highest AQI level recorded in China’s most polluted city, Baoding, was 298.
The Times of India added that the number of deaths in India caused by air pollution is only a little less than the number of deaths caused by tobacco usage, and that three per cent of the GDP is lost due to air pollution.
CNN reported that hundreds gathered outside Parliament to protest and others went to Twitter to share the slogan #MyRightToBreathe. An emergency ruling also saw more than 5,000 schools closed and construction work halted. Officials warned that the number of vehicles allowed on the streets may be restricted if the situation does not improve.
Aatiteya Chandna ’20 who is from Delhi said that he was not shocked to hear that it was the most polluted. “I kind of expected it. I felt the dust pollution when I went home during winter break. It is so clean here and there [Delhi] I can see the pollution. I don’t know what the government wants to do with global warming. Implementing policies is not the governments forte,” he said.