India has slipped to the 155th rank on the global Environment Performance Index (EPI) 2014, with Delhi getting the notorious label of the world’s most polluted city. A comparative study of 178 countries on nine environmental parameters by the Yale University shows India to be a disaster on the environmental front. More worryingly, India’s pollution levels could play havoc with its citizens' health and lives.
India has been called a bottom performer on nearly every issue in the 2014 EPI, except forests, fisheries and water resources. The study describes India’s air pollution as the worst in the world, competing with China on the proportion of population exposed to air pollution. Delhi has the highest supended particulate matter (SPM) at 2.5 pollution levels followed by Beijing. Delhi, with its 81 lakh vehicles, has beaten the Chinese capital on particulate matter pollution. The severe pollution caused by high vehicle density and industrial emissions causes the dense smog in Delhi in winters, with adverse health implications. The dangers in Delhi have been largely ignored by the government.
A Harvard International Review study says that every two in five Delhiites suffer from respiratory problems. The Lancet’s report calls air pollution the 6th biggest human killer in India. Particles smaller than 2.5 microns diameter are fine enough to go deep into human lungs and blood tissues to cause serious diseases. Indian policy-makers have failed to take the required action to check the phenomenal growth of air pollution in India. A Central Pollution Control Board study says that in 140 Indian cities, the current air pllution levels are critical or hazardous for human health and that the air pollution levels in almost all cities are rising.