India capital New Delhi topped the list for being the most polluted city in the world, according to a real-time air quality ranking report by IQ Air Visual. In the list of most polluted cities of the world, New Delhi is followed by Lahore, Hanoi and Dhaka.
The ranking is calculated based on live tracking of the Air Quality Index or AQI of cities across the world. The list of ( most polluted cities of the world) the released on their website, shows 50 most polluted countries with Delhi appearing right on top of the list at an AQI of 422 around 9 pm on Wednesday almost double that of Lahore.
Authorities in New Delhi have declared a public health emergency on Friday and closed schools and all construction activity until next week as air pollution in the city hit its worst level this year.
A dense haze has hung over the Indian capital this week created by plumes of toxic smoke from farm fires raging in neighbouring states. The index measures the level of PM 2.5, tiny particulate matter that goes deep into the lungs. Anything above 400 poses a risk for people with respiratory illnesses and can also affect even those with healthy lungs.
“We have been advised to stay at home on Monday,” said Anuj Rawat, an account director at Kantar, the market research arm of British advertising major WPP. Kantar employs around 400 people at its office in New Delhi, Rawat said.
The Environment Pollution Control Authority, which is leading the effort to tackle Delhi’s pollution, said: “We have to take this as a public health emergency as air pollution is now hazardous and will have adverse health impacts on all, but particularly our children.” It banned all construction work in the sprawling metropolis of 20 million people and its neighbouring cities until Nov 5.
Each year, farmers in the states of Punjab and Haryana burn crop residue to prepare for the sowing season, ignoring government warnings.
According to government-run monitor SAFAR, satellite pictures had captured nearly 3,200 incidents of stubble burning on Thursday in Haryana and Punjab that contributed to 44 per cent of Delhi’s pollution. The toxic air has left several Bangladeshi cricket players with sore throats and itchy eyes ahead of their Twenty20 match against India on Sunday.
“Government knew an emergency situation was approaching and did not take substantive steps on stubble burning or big industrial polluting sources,” said Sunil Dahiya, an energy and air pollution analyst at Greenpeace. “A public health emergency situation began at least 10 days ago.”