Which are the Most Polluted Cities in India?

Map of India Highlighting the Most Polluted Cities
Map of India depicting the most polluted cities in the country

The cities of India have been, repeatedly featuring in the list of most polluted cities in the world. That takes a massive toll on the health of millions of its residents. It happens due to a lack of awareness, and undue interference of politicians and others, which is the stumbling block for improving the air quality in the country.

India has been striving to improve its air quality in urban areas for several years. In 2019, India launched its first National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), to tackle the ever-increasing problem of air pollution. The NCAP aims to reduce pollution in major cities, by 20-30% by 2020, as compared to the year 2017. Most of the cities in India witnessed a decrease in PM 2.5 levels in 2019. But still, these cities feature in the list of most polluted cities of India as well as the world. Despite the drop in PM 2.5, the yearly average for these cities is in the “unhealthy” category. In February 2019, a report was published titled “World Air Quality Report 2019”, by IQ Air unveiled that six out of the top 10 most polluted cities are situated in India.

Let’s discuss the fifteen most polluted cities of India as per the IQAir report, in detail:

1. Ghaziabad

Ghaziabad is adjacent to Delhi. Several industries are flourishing in the city. Environmental pollution has been increasing in the city due to growing industries and increasing population as well as the number of vehicles. Therefore WHO has declared it the most polluted city in the world.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 110.2

2. Delhi

Delhi topped the list of most polluted country capitals in the world.

With an average of 98.6 Particulate Matter (PM 2.5) concentration. This high pollution level is caused due to the high industrial and vehicular emissions, construction work, and the burning of crops in the adjoining states.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 98.6

3. Noida

In November 2019, Noida surpassed Ghaziabad and became the most polluted city in the country. Pollution in Noida has increased due to enormous traffic, major construction work, stubble burning, and diesel generators. A large number of offices are running in Noida because it is close to Delhi.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 97.7

4. Gurugram

Gurugram faces a spike in pollution levels over the last decade due to diesel autos, the use of diesel generators, and massive construction projects running all over the city. Unchecked waste burning and dumping of construction and demolition (C&D) increases the PM 2.5 concentration and further adds to this grave situation.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 93.1

5. Greater Noida

Greater Noida lies close to Delhi and is an extension of Noida. Gradually this area is now replete with population and vehicles. New offices are opening here, so the traffic has also increased, which led to a boost in the pollution level.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 91.3

6. Bandhwari

In November 2018, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) started gathering data from a monitoring station at the National Institute of Solar Energy on the Gurugram-Faridabad Road. Bandhwari is a village in Gurugram tehsil. The pollution level has gone up in recent times due to development in nearby cities.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 90.5

7. Lucknow

Lucknow is among the most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM 2.5 level. Huge traffic, burning of garbage in the nearby areas, and improper construction work are the key contributors to the high pollution levels.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 90.3

8. Bulandshahr

The pollution level in Bulandshahr has gone up in recent times. With the shortage of land in big cities, people are moving towards smaller towns. Improper construction work, an increase in vehicles, and the population are responsible for the rise in pollution in the city.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 89.4

9. Muzaffarnagar

Another city of Uttar Pradesh, Muzaffarnagar has been facing the pollution issue. The migration of people from the villages to the smaller district towns is responsible for the increase in pollution. Improper industrial growth and construction, with an increase in the number of vehicles, have helped a lot in boosting the pollution level in the city.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 89.1

10. Bagpat

Bagpat, another city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, occupies the 10th position in terms of pollution in the country. Currently, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Baghpat is unhealthy due to the high level of pollution.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 88.6

11. Jind

Jind is one of the largest and oldest cities in Haryana. It has been on the receiving end regarding the pollution level. The pollution in the city has gone up due to a boom in real estate, as well as an increase in the number of vehicles.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 85.4

12. Faridabad

Faridabad, a city in the National Capital Region, is one of the most polluted cities in the country. Faridabad has become the dustiest city of Haryana because of the construction of commercial complexes and boom in real estate.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 85.0

13. Coraut

Coraut is located in the Varanasi district in the state of Uttar Pradesh. It occupies the 13th position in terms of pollution in the country.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 85.0

14. Bhiwadi

Bhiwadi is a city situated in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. It is an industrial hub of the state. The immense growth of industry and population is responsible for the increase in pollution in the city.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 83.4

15. Patna

Patna is the 15th most polluted city in India in terms of PM 2.5 concentration. Suspended road dust particles, emission from vehicles, and smoke undulating out of brick furnaces have been linked to a higher level of respiratory suspended particulate matter (PM 10) in Patna.

Harmful particles PM 2.5( µg/m³) 2019 AVG: 82.1

However, COVID-19 and the resulting nationwide lockdown surely affected the air pollution levels in India. Greenpeace India’s analysis of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data has made it clear that the air pollution reduced during the first ten days of the COVID-19 lockdown period. Ghaziabad witnessed 65.75% reduction in PM 2.5. Similarly, Delhi’s PM 2.5 dropped by 57.64%, Noida by 65.10%, Gurugram by 56.04%, and Greater Noida by 68.83% during the initial phase of COVID lockdown.

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