NEW DELHI: The coal-belching town of Jharia in Jharkhand continues to be the most polluted city in India, while Delhi has made marginal improvement in reducing its air pollution level, according to a Greenpeace India report released on Tuesday.
Delhi is the 10th-most polluted city in India, according to the report.
The city was at the eighth spot a year ago, according to the report for that year.
Average annual levels of PM10, particulate matter less than 10 micrometres in diameter that can enter the lungs and even the bloodstream, in Jharia was 322 micrograms per cubic metre in 2018, more than six times the safe limits of 0-60, according to the report.
Jharkhand's Dhanbad, known for its rich coal reserves and industries, is the second-most polluted city in India, according to the report based on analysis of PM10 data from 287 cities across the country.
The annual average of PM10 levels in Delhi reduced from 240 micrograms per cubic metre in 2017 to 225 in 2018.
Lunglei in Mizoram is the least polluted followed by Meghalaya's Dowki, according to the report.
Six of the top-10 polluted cities are in Uttar Pradesh -- Noida, Ghaziabad, Bareilly, Allahabad, Moradabad and Firozabad.
The Greenpeace report also said 231 of the 287 cities recorded PM10 levels above 60 micrograms per cubic metre on at least 52 days in 2018.
The Central Pollution Control Board has identified 0-60 µg/m3 as a safe limit for PM10 levels under National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
"For NAAQS, pollution data for 104 days covering all seasons is collected. It is done to maintain uniformity in data collection," according to Dipankar Saha, former head of the CPCB's air quality lab.
In 2015, the Environment Ministry identified 102 cities as "non-attainment" cities (which do not meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards) under the National Clean Air Programme that aims for a 20-30 per cent reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations by 2024, Avinash Chanchal, one of the two authors of the report said.
Ideally, all these 231 cities are non-attainment cities and should be included in NCAP, he said.
"Based on 2018 data, West Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa have 36, 21, 21, 20 and 15 non-attainment cities respectively," the report said.
The report also said pollution levels across much of the country are so high that even a 30 per cent reduction will still leave levels above NAAQS.