Diwali Festival Adds More Indian Cities To World’s Most Polluted
Two Indian cities have joined the national capital, New Delhi, on the list of the world’s top 10 most polluted cities this week, following Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of light.
Millions of Indians celebrated Diwali this week, burning a record number of bright earthen oil lamps and setting of fireworks, as authorities expressed concerns about air pollution.
The nations capital, New Delhi, retained the top spot with an air quality index (AQI) figure of 407 on Monday, 10 times the Global Safety Threshold and described by the Swiss group IQAir as falling in the “hazardous” category.
And following the Diwali celebrations, two further Indian cities also joined the top 10 list. Mumbai, India’s financial capital, came in sixth with an AQI of 157, while Kolkata in the east was seventh with an AQI of 154.
India, now the most populated country in the world (1.433 billion at the time of writing) has long battled with air pollution, primarily caused by vehicles, heavy industry, construction and agricultural waste burning. Every year at this time, Indian authorities attempt to ban fire crackers and restrict the use of motor vehicles in an attempt to mitigate the deterioration of air quality, but these restrictions prove almost impossible to enforce and are largely ignored.
According to the latest Air Quality Life Index published by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute (EPIC), South Asia, which includes India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan, accounts for more than half of the total life years lost globally to pollution. Rapid industrialisation and human population growth have contributed to declining air quality across South Asia, where particulate pollution levels are currently more than 50 percent higher than at the start of the century and now overshadow dangers posed by other health threats.
According to EPIC’s study, India is responsible for approximately 59 per cent of the world’s increase in pollution since 2013. In the densely populated New Delhi, the world’s most polluted megacity, the average life span is now down by more than 10 years.