Skip to main content

Modi's Varanasi most toxic city of India, has zero good air days: Govt of India's top pollution watchdog

By Our Representative
India’s top environmental watchdog, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), has found Varanasi to be the most toxic city of the country. Notorious for water pollution because of the Ganga river, Varanasi is known to be the most polluted stretch in the country. However, how the CPCB has now found that of the 227 days for which it measured air quality, the holy city recorded zero good air days.
Quoted in a just-released report, titled “Varanasi Chokes! Particulate Matter Trends and Increasing Respiratory Ailments”, prepared by IndiaSpend, a data analysis site, the CPCB has found that the only other city which has zero good air days is also in Uttar Pradesh – Allahabad.
In order to provide a comparison, the CPCB provides data for other Uttar Pradesh cities. Thus, Agra has 17 per cent good air days (28 out of 165 days monitored); Kanpur 12 per cent (85 out of 730 days); Ghaziabad four per cent (five out of 127 days); and Lucknow three per cent (15 out of 566 days).
A city which sent Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Lok Sabha in the 2014 polls, the IndiaSpend report says, ever since, Varanasi has drawn “the maximum funds ever for the Ganga Action Plan … with a promise of 3 billion US dollars to clean up the river in a span of five years.”
The report further says, “One of the key sources of pollution in the river has been identified as the release of large amounts of sewage and a range of industrial effluents. Over 400 tanneries and industries are known to be operating close to the river and most of them release their effluents directly into Ganga.”
Yet, the report suggests, the high level of air pollution was ignored, even though it was identified in 2009, when the Ministry of Environment and Forests issued a nationwide index to help identify critically polluted zones across the country.
“The Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) identified 43 critically polluted zones by taking into account the pollution levels in air, water and soil. Uttar Pradesh has six out of 43 polluted zones in the country – Singrauli, Ghaziabad, Noida, Kanpur, Agra and Varanasi”, the report notes.
Global pollution: Top 20 cities. WHO did not include Varanasi
IndiaSpend further recalls that in 2012, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi report on aerosols formation stated that “the entire Indo-Gangetic belt is prone to high levels of oxides of nitrogen and sulphur which in turn are responsible for increased levels of particulate matter in the air.”
Particulate matter, says the report, results in increased air pollution levels and is one of the key components responsible for asthma, chronic lung diseases and even heart diseases, with its impact being felt on the vulnerable sections of the population – children and the elderly.
It underlines, “The other important aspect with respect to air pollution that many tend to ignore is the role of coal fired power plants, worsening air quality. The Purvanchal region of the state has close to 11 coal-fired thermal power plants, producing close to 12,000MW of energy.”
It adds, “Studies done by a Delhi-based group, UrbanEmissions, has identified that the changing wind patterns in the Indo-Gangetic region especially during the winter time tend to carry the emissions from the power plants to several hundred kilometers depending on the speed of the wind, leading to an exponential spike in the regional pollution levels.” 
Interestingly, this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed of 20 most polluted cities in the world, 10 of them from India. Four of these ten are from UP – Allahabad, Kanpur, Firozabad and Lucknow. Varanasi is not on the WHO’s list; yet, CPCB has found the Prime Minister’s constituency has having India’s worst air quality.

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.