A section of the media has carried reports today, quoting a World Health Organisation study that has highlighted the problem of air pollution till 2016 and has inferred that 14 most polluted cities in the world are located in India. The WHO report indicates that Delhi is placed at no. 6 with an annual average Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 concentration as 143 micrograms per cubic metre in 2016. However, the Government has made serious efforts to deal with air pollution. Data for the year 2017 for PM 2.5 shows an improvement over 2016 and so far in 2018, it shows a further improvement, as compared to 2017. The Government has also taken several bold initiatives, including leap-frogging from BS-IV to BS-VI, says the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
In the context of air pollution, CPCB data based on Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) indicates that the annual average PM 2.5 concentration in the year 2016 as 134 micrograms per cubic metre and as 125 micrograms per cubic metre in the year 2017. Similarly, for PM 10 the figures were 289 micrograms per cubic metre in the year 2016 and 268 micrograms per cubic metre in the year 2017. Therefore, even PM 10 levels have come down in the year 2017 against 2016.
The improvement in Particulate Matter concentration in Delhi has happened in spite of episodic events in two successive years in November 2016 and November 2017. During these months, in addition to local emissions, there was substantial contribution from regional sources, including smoke due to stubble burning in neighbouring states and dust from Gulf countries.