Delhi and most of the other non-attainment cities under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)have shown only a marginal improvement, said a new analysis released on Monday.
Some of the cities have even recorded an increase in particulate matter (PM) levels, it said. Cities are declared non-attainment if they consistently fail to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) over a five-year period.
The Centre’s NCAP was implemented across India in 2019 to reduce particulate matter levels in 132 cities by 20-30% in 2024.
The analysis by NCAP Tracker, a joint project by news portal Carbon Copy and a Maharashtra-based start-up ‘Respirer Living Sciences’, designed to track India’s progress in achieving the clean air targets, ranked Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh as the most polluted city out of the 132 non-attainment cities with highest levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10.
Delhi was the second most polluted city in the list of cities with the highest PM 2.5 level and fourth in cities with the highest PM 10 level.
Despite the constant focus on the air pollution woes of the Capital city, Delhi reduced its PM levels only marginally, the analysis said.
“Based on the Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring System (CAAQMS) data, its PM 2.5 levels dropped from 108 ug/m3 in 2019 to 102 ug/m3 in 2021 and its PM 10 levels reduced from 217 ug/m3 to 207 ug/m3 during the same period, it said. It added that Delhi’s PM 2.5 level continues to be more than 2.5 times the CPCB’s safe limit of 40 ug/m3 and 20 times the WHO’s safe limit of 5ug/m3,” it said.
“The data shows there has been little or no progress on ground. An analysis of the government’s air quality data shows that not only have most non-attainment cities reduced PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels only marginally but some have also recorded an increase,” the analysis pointed out.
According to the three-year comparative analysis, Ghaziabad, with annual PM 2.5 level above 100, remained at the top of the table in the most polluted cities, except in 2020, when Lucknow ranked first with an annual PM 2.5 level of 116.