India's environmental court National Green Tribunal (NGT) has urged Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Bihar to respond to a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report on 20 most-polluted cities in the world, officials said Friday.
According to the WHO global air pollution database, 14 Indian cities are among the world's 20 most polluted in terms of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 concentrations.
Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh has been declared the worst, with PM 2.5 concentration of 173 micrograms per cubic metre, followed by Faridabad, Varanasi and Gaya.
"Yesterday a bench headed by acting NGT Chairperson Jawad Rahim sought responses from the governments of Delhi and other northern states," a NGT official said. "The court asked them to clarify their standby May 21, the next date of hearing."
PM 2.5 are tiny but deadly air particles, which can increase the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
According to WHO, air pollution levels remain dangerously high in many parts of the world. New data released by WHO shows that nine out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. WHO estimates say around 7 million people die every year from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and respiratory diseases like pneumonia due to exposure to polluted air.
The Indian cities that recorded very high levels of PM 2.5 pollutants were Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Delhi, Varanasi, Lucknow, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur.
Air pollution is a leading cause of premature death in India. Pollution in Delhi gets aggravated during winter months.
The deteriorating air quality in Delhi has made the city less desirable destination for foreign diplomats serving here.