New Delhi: As many as 15 Indian cities possess air quality index far over than the prescribed standards and Delhi is just the "tip of the air pollution iceberg", said a Greenpeace study released on Tuesday.
A ranking of the 17 cities covered by the National Air Quality Index (NAQI) was released by the NGO, which revealed Delhi is just a "tip of the air pollution iceberg in the country."
"As many as 15 of the 17 Indian cities with NAQI stations showed levels of air pollution that far exceed Indian standards. As the political capital - and indeed, the most polluted of all cities - the bad air in Delhi gets the most attention," Greenpeace said.
The PM 2.5 (particulate matter with diameter below 2.5 microns) levels, which are a measure of pollution, in cities like Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Muzzafarpur and Faridabad are also on levels of a 'red alert', the analysis said.
"Even the government's own, largely inadequate NAQI data reveals that 23 of the 32 stations across India are showing more than 70 percent exceedance of the national standards," said Greenpeace India campaigner Sunil Dahiya.
The pollution levels in a few Indian cities have the "embarrassing distinction" of having exceeded the toxic levels of Beijing and other Chinese cities, demonstrating levels at least ten times higher than the WHO standards, making air pollution truly a "national emergency", he added.
There is an immediate need to diversify and upgrade the manual stations to ambient air quality monitoring stations feeding data to the online NAQI portal, the NGO said.
Greenpeace also called for a "systematic clean air action plan", with focused targets, clear timelines and demonstrable accountability towards public health.