India, home to the world’s most polluted city, launches air quality index – India has some of the most unhealthy air of any country in the world, with pollutants from rapid industrial growth killing an estimated 620,000 people per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
New Delhi currently ranks as the most polluted city in the world, according to a WHO study last year. The same study found that 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities were located in India. The rapid rise of India’s economy, particularly a boom in auto ownership, particularly, diesel-driven cars, has contributed to the pollution problems along with a lack of rigorous environmental protection laws and enforcement of those laws.
Now the Indian government is taking a first step toward being transparent about the air quality crisis, which may put the country on the road toward stricter pollution regulations.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the creation of an air quality index that will track and report air quality conditions in real time. The information will be published on the Internet and will let people know if it’s safe to be outdoors. The index, Modi and other officials said, will initially monitor air quality in 10 cities, and be expanded to more than 60 large cities in the next few years. Modi also called on Indians to change their lifestyle to reduce pollution.