- According to Let Me breathe, the average air quality in Varanasi for PM 2.5 from 2017-2019 had improved to 104 from 206 in 2016. However, the maximum PM levels breached continued to be above 200, or in the “very poor” category.
- Let Me Breathe is a portal that investigates how people cope with poor air quality. It had queried civic officials and the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board with Right to Information requests to check what progress Varanasi had made in improving its air quality.
- According to Central Pollution Control Board’s 2015 dataset, Varanasi had one of the most toxic air in India in 2015. Out of 227 days measured in 2015, the city had zero ‘good-air’ days. This had been attributed to heavy levels of industrial pollution, biomass burning, vehicular emissions, brick kilns and diesel generator sets.
- Further, WHO has ranked Varanasi 3rd among cities with most polluted air on earth. 14 out of the top 15 cities are from India with Kanpur ranking first in the list followed by Faridabad. Despite these statistics, Varanasi has only one online air quality monitor, capable of measuring PM2.5 and PM10.
- Varanasi is one of the cities that is part of the National Clean Air Programme. NCAP has been launched in 2019 for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution in India. It is a five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year.
- It aims at 20%–30% reduction of PM2.5and PM10 concentration by 2024, taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
- The programme targets 102 non-attainment cities which were identified by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
- Non-attainment cities are those which have been consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
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