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Most Polluted Cities in India | Air Pollution in India

There are many cities in India where pollution is a big issue especially in winters air pollution gets worse. People tend to stay at home when air quality is poor and even inside the home they need an air purifier to breathe normally. Most of the world's most polluted cities are in India based on the presence of particulate matter. As per the reports of WHO, around 7 million people are killed in a year across the world due to air pollution. For example, air pollution may cause many health issues such as lung disease, respiratory infection, cancer, pneumonia, and insomnia. 21 out of the 31 most polluted cities in the world in 2019 were from India.

Top ten polluted cities in India

  1. Ghaziabad
  2. Delhi
  3. Gurugram
  4. Lucknow
  5. Jind
  6. Muzaffarnagar
  7. Patna
  8. Dhanbad, Jharkhand
  9. Varanasi
  10. Kanpur

1) Ghaziabad

Ghaziabad is a part of the National Capital Region (NCR) and is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. As of now, it is counted among the most polluted cities in the country. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the main reasons for the rising pollution in Ghaziabad are traffic congestion and dust. Besides this, the following reasons are also increasing pollution in the city:

  • Depletion of forest cover
  • Emission from diesel-based generators in societies
  • Industrial pollution and burning of crops
  • Open burning of waste or garbage

Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation keeps taking various measures to reduce this pollution such as water sprinkling, mechanized sweeping, etc.


2) Delhi

Delhi which is the capital city of India is also a popular tourist destination as it houses many historical monuments such as Red Fort, Qutab Minar, Jantar Mantar, Lodhi Garden, etc. It is also one of the most polluted cities in India. Some of the main reasons for pollution in Delhi are listed below:

  • The smoke produced from the burning the crop residues in the neighbouring states of Delhi like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is found to be one of the main causes of air pollution in Delhi. The wind carries the pollutants from the fields to Delhi where it gets locked in the air and thereby also reduces visibility.
  • The other common reason for air pollution is traffic congestion.
  • The speed of the wind is very low in winters due to this pollutants get locked in the air or remain suspended in the air.
  • The construction on a large scale in Delhi-NCR is also increasing the dust in the air and thus deteriorating its quality.
  • Garbage dumps and industrial emission also cause air pollution and smog in the air.

3) Gurugram

Gurugram is a city in the Haryana state of India. It is also a part of the National Capital Region of India. Besides this, it is also one of the financial and banking centres in India. Some of the major reasons for pollution in Gurugram city include:

  • The residue of crops burned in the neighbouring states' fields produces smoke that is carried to this city by the wind.
  • Burning of waste in the dumping sites
  • The rapid development of the city increased traffic in the city that caused vehicular pollution.
  • The dust produced from the construction sites also gets accumulated in the air that deteriorating air quality.
  • The smoke produced by Diesel generators has also worsened the air quality of the city.

4) Lucknow

Lucknow is the capital city of Uttara Pradesh. It is located on the banks of the Gomti River at an altitude of 123 meters from the sea level. It is famous for its arts, culture, music, cuisines, and Chikan embroidery. As of March 2019, according to reports, Lucknow was the ninth most polluted city in the world. Some of the major reasons for air pollution in Lucknow are:

  • Depletion of forest cover to build malls and highways, etc., has increased the proportion of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Emission from vehicles and industrial activities has increased the levels of dust, and harmful gases in the air like CO, CO2, NO, etc.
  • Burning of wood as a fuel also adds unnecessary smoke in the air.
  • Burning of garbage also produces unwanted gases that deteriorate the air quality.
  • Burnings of coal in the tandoor in restaurants across the city also causes pollution.
  • Use of diesel generators as a power back on a daily basis also pollutes the air
  • Burning of crops in the fields after harvesting to clean the field is also a big reason for pollution in this city.

5) Jind

Jind is a city in the state of Haryana, India. It is also one of the most polluted cities in India. According to a report prepared with the support of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Jind was the 20th most polluted city in the world. However, other cities of Haryana also found to have poor air quality these cities include Hisar, Sirsa, Karnal, Ballabgarh, Panipat, etc.

Some of the major reasons for pollution in Jind are listed below:

  • The burning of crops in the fields by the farmers produces a lot of smoke that gets locked in the air for a longer duration and reduces air visibility along with deteriorating its quality.
  • The number and movement of vehicles are increasing in the city as it is connected to all nearby major cities including the capital city of New Delhi.
  • Construction dust, diesel generators and emission from industries are other reasons that are affecting the air quality of the city.

6) Muzaffarnagar

Muzaffarnagar is a city in the state of Uttar Pradesh. It is also known as 'The Sugar Bowl of India'. It is located on the NH 58, Dehli-Haridwar National Highway at an altitude of 272 meters above the sea level. It is known for sugar and jaggery production and is a hub for jaggery trading business. More than 40% of the population of the city is dependent on agriculture.

Some of the major reasons for pollution in Muzaffarnagar:

  • It is located on the highway that remains occupied with moving vehicles. The emission from vehicles pollutes the air.
  • The smoke produced by burning crops in the nearby agricultural fields also raises the pollution level.
  • The emission from industries is also responsible for polluting the air.
  • Burning of coal or woods in winter also produces smoke that gets locked in the air as the movement of air is very slow in winters.
  • Dust produced in construction sites also increases the level of air pollution in the city.

7) Patna

Patna is the capital city as well as the largest city in the state of Bihar in India. It is located on the southern bank of the sacred river Ganges at an altitude of 53 meters from the sea level. The total geographical of Patna is around 250 sq. km. and its total population as of 2020 is around 2.5 million. Like the above-mentioned cities, Patna is also counted among the most polluted cities of the world.

Some of the major reasons of pollution in Patna are shortlisted below:

  • The emission from vehicles and the road dust that enter the air due to the movement of the vehicles
  • The smoke and unburnt particles produced due to domestic fuel burning for cooking or in winters to withstand the cold
  • The smoke produced from open waste burning
  • The dust produced from construction activities and emission from the industries
  • Burning of crop stubble is also found to be a major reason of air pollution in Patna
  • The river Ganges is shifting away from its bank to the north that has exposed river bed that also has contributed to the poor air quality.

8) Dhanbad, Jharkhand

Dhanbad is a city in the state of Jharkhand, India. It is located at an altitude of 227 meters above sea level. It shares borders with West Bengal, Bokaro, Dumka and Giridih and Paschim Bardhaman. It is also known as 'Coal Capital of India' as one of the largest coal mines in India is found here and it is surrounded by over 100 coal mines. It became a district on 24 October 1956.

The major reasons of pollution in Dhanbad are listed below:

  • Coal mining and industrial activities on a large scale has deteriorated the air and water quality in the city that has affected the health of the residents
  • Emission from vehicles and burning of biomass release harmful gases into the air
  • Dust produced due to the demolition and construction activities is a common thing here like other polluted cities
  • Using coal as a fuel in the roadside food outlets and dhabas produces a lot of smoke and unburnt particles
  • The smoke produced by diesel generator sets also worsens the air quality.

9) Varanasi

Varanasi is also known as Banaras or Kashi. It is a famous city of Uttar Pradesh located on the banks of sacred river Ganges. The city also has emerged as an industrial hub in the last few years and is famous for its perfumes, ivory works, muslin and silk fabrics, etc. Besides so many achievements, the city is also counted among the most polluted cities in India.

The major reasons for pollution in Varanasi are as follows:

  • Civil Construction is going on in Varanasi on a large scale, e.g., roads are dug up, drains are being constructed, etc. All this keeps adding smoke and dust into the air
  • Emission from the traffic and industries release harmful gases and other pollutants into the air
  • Open fires in dumping grounds, biomass burning, and deforestation and coal-powered plants release harmful gases, dust and other particles into the air
  • Smoke produced from private diesel generators also pollutes the air of Varanasi

10) Kanpur

Kanpur is a city in the state of Uttar Pradesh. It is known for its textile industry and leather or shoe industry. It is widely referred to as 'Leather City of the World'. Besides this, the first woollen mill of India that is known as the Lal Imli (Red Tamarind) is located in Kanpur. The city is found to have the worst air quality that made it to be listed among the most polluted cities in India.

Some of the major reasons for pollution in Kanpur are as follows:

  • Industrial sector particularly the textile and leather industry have emerged as a major reason for pollution in Kanpur. The smoke released from these industries is not good for air
  • Vehicles are increasing in the city due to which the vehicular emission is also increasing. Besides this, the movement of vehicles also produces road dust that also pollutes the air.
  • Open burning of garbage waste also produces smoke and harmful substances
  • Use of coal and woods in domestic burning in the villages of Kanpur and restaurants in cities is also not good for air.





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