New Delhi: India has overtaken China's air pollution levels in 2015 and the average particulate matter exposure was higher for the first time in the 21st century, a Greenpeace analysis of NASA satellite data has shown.
For the first time this century, the average particulate matter exposure was higher for Indian citizens than that of Chinese people.
"China's strong measures to curb pollution have contributed to the biggest year-on-year air quality improvement on record while in contrast, India's pollution levels continued a decade-long increase to reach the highest level on record," Greenpeace India said in a statement.
It said as per World Health Organization (WHO), India is home to 13 out of 20 most polluted cities in the world with deteriorating air pollution levels in the past decade, particularly in North India.
Greenpeace, in its National Air Quality Index (NAQI) ranking report, had earlier said that as many as 15 out of 17 Indian cities with NAQI stations showed levels of air pollution that far exceeded the prescribed Indian standards.
The report had also revealed that 23 of the 32 stations across India are showing more than 70 per cent exceedance of the national standards, putting public health at risk.
Greenpeace observed that the most important aspect to fight air pollution is a robust system to curb air pollution in public domain that empowers people to take action to safeguard their health and the government to issue red alerts during bad air days and take policy decisions in the long term.
The green NGO said India's NAQI network with 39 operating stations also compares poorly with the 1,500 stations in China.
"The satellite images until 2005 showed India's pollution, while serious, was lot lower than eastern China's.
In 2015, India particulate pollution stands higher than that of China, after increasing at an average rate of 2 per cent over the past decade," it said.