"It is critical that we become more carbon neutral in our choices, and undertakes sustained plantation drives," says environment expert
IQ Air, a Swiss technology company has prepared a ‘World Air Quality Report, 2020’, according to which 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India, with Delhi ranked as the most polluted capital city, globally. Contributing to the pollution are factors like transportation, biomass burning, electricity generation, industrial pollution, construction-related pollution, waste burning, and agricultural burning.
Xinjiang in China, according to the report, is the most polluted city and in India, besides Delhi, the other 21 Indian cities among the 30 most polluted cities in the world are Ghaziabad, Bulandshahar, Bisrakh Jalalpur, Noida, Greater Noida, Kanpur, Lucknow, Meerut, Agra, Muzaffarnagar, Bhiwari, Faridabad, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad, Bandhwari, Gurugram, Yamuna Nagar, Rohtak, Dharuhera and Muzaffarpur.
Says Bikrant Tiwary, CEO of Grow-Trees.com, a social enterprise, “It is unfortunate that every year, we end up on similar lists. If we preserved our environment, curtailed deforestation, and became sensitive about pollution in biosensitive regions, we would become a greener and healthier country. The report does show that Delhi’s air quality has improved by approximately 15 percent from 2019 to 2020 but still, it is ranked as the top polluted capital city in the world. This is not something to be sanguine about. We must change for the environment to change. We need to find cleaner energy sources, create natural carbon sinks, opt for a sustainable way of living and commuting. We must plant more trees.”
Bikrant explains that most of the reports that rank global cities in the context of pollution are based on PM2.5 data, which takes into consideration particulate matter, or fine inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller. He points out how during the global lockdown in the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a tangible reduction in air and water pollutants because of less industrial, construction and transportation activity. He says, “The pandemic has reminded us of all the issues we have been overlooking. It is critical that we become more carbon neutral in our choices now.”
To precipitate this green shift, Grow-Trees.com has initiated a plantation project for 75,000 trees covering the areas of Burari, Jagatpur, Mayur Vihar, Mukundpur, Nirankari Sarovar, Ghazipur, Smriti Van, Kondali in the Delhi-NCR region. Bikrant says, “Just the transport sector in Delhi releases nearly 421.84 tonnes of CO2, 110.45 tonnes of NO2, and 12.77 tonnes of particulate matter in the atmosphere every day, according to a 2010 report by Dept. of Environment & Forests. This air irreversibly damages the lungs of millions of children and negatively impacts the lifespan and health of countless citizens. The green cover in the city is shrinking constantly. We are planting trees that will help regulate micro-climates by releasing oxygen and absorbing carbon along with other particulate matters.”
He hopes the initiative will go a long way towards oxygenating the lungs of the city. As he says, "We can change things on an individual and collective level. All we need is a cohesive, green vision and more trees to make our cities less polluted."