New Delhi, May 2: In wake of the WHO data that found 14 most polluted cities are from India with Kanpur at the top and Delhi at sixth position, the Indian Environment Ministry on Wednesday said that data is from 2016 while the government has done a lot to improve air quality since then.
According to WHO, based on PM2.5 or particles with diameter smaller than 2.5 microns, in 2016 the top 14 polluted cities include Kanpur, Faridabad, Varanasi, Gaya, Patna, Delhi, Lucknow, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur.
However, WHO officials told IANS that many cities in the world, including some expected to be among the most polluted, do not collect information or report on its outdoor air quality.
The report also said that nine of ten people in world breath toxic air.
The ministry said that annual average Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 concentration of Delhi has improved from 2016 to 2017. It said that while PM 2.5 concentration in the year 2016 was 134 units, it was 125 micrograms per cubic metre in the year 2017.
"The Government has made serious efforts to deal with air pollution. Data for the year 2017 for PM 2.5 shows an improvement over 2016 and so far in 2018, it shows a further improvement, as compared to 2017," the Ministry said in a statement.
"CPCB data based on Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) indicates that the annual average PM 2.5 concentration in the year 2016 as 134 micrograms per cubic metre and as 125 micrograms per cubic metre in the year 2017
"Similarly, for PM 10 the figures were 289 micrograms per cubic metre in the year 2016 and 268 micrograms per cubic metre in the year 2017. Therefore, even PM 10 levels have come down in the year 2017 against 2016," Ministry said.
The Ministry said that significant action has been taken in Delhi and NCR, including the formulation of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
Meanwhile, the WHO, in a mail, said that it "cannot compare cities based on their levels of outdoor air pollution".
"Cities that collect and disseminate information on outdoor air quality need to be praised for their action. The cities which have invested in the capacity to regularly monitor and report the local air quality measurements have already demonstrated a commitment to starting to address air quality issues and public health," it said.