Varanasi, Third Most Polluted City in the World – What Can We Do?

Varanasi, known for its heritage and culture, is also known as one of the most polluted cities in the world.

Health News
2 min read
Varanasi ranks third as the world’s most polluted city among 4,300 world cities. 

Varanasi known for its heritage and culture is also known as one of the most polluted cities in the world. According to reports by the World Health Organization (WHO), Varanasi ranks third as the world’s most polluted city among 4,300 world cities. 14 out of the top 15 cities are from India with Kanpur ranking first in the list followed by Faridabad.

A Lancet study mentions that Uttar Pradesh recorded the most amount of deaths attributed to air pollution in 2017, with more than 260,000 lives lost. In response to the rising numbers, the government introduced the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), in January 2019, which provided a framework to the States and the Center to combat air pollution.


(FIT and Let Me Breathe hosted a conversation on the issue of pollution in Varanasi with political leaders and experts.)

According to Central Pollution Control Board’s 2015 dataset, Varanasi had the most toxic air in the country. Despite these statistics, the city has only one online air quality monitor, capable of measuring PM2.5 and PM10, while no AQI (Air Quality Index) score is available.

Varanasi is one of the most polluted cities on the planet. Still there is only one monitoring station. While in the last few years the government has done amazing work on the beautification of the city and solar, its time to make air pollution a serious priority as well.
Tamseel Hussain, Founder, Let Me Breathe

Let Me Breathe is works to find collective solutions to climate change, pollution and sustainability.

There have been various shortfalls in the mandate of the traffic police regarding the implementation and monitoring of traffic. Moreover, while many trees have been planted by the forest department and the developmental authority in Varanasi, many trees have been cut to make space for infrastructural development.

The Urban Local Body, Nagar Nigam, took some steps regarding curbing road dust and road side burning of garbage, however, no details have been given regarding the same and the nature of violations.

To be able to keep the alarming rates of air pollution in check, monitoring and enforcement of air pollution norms is required along with setting up systems to cope with bouts of air pollution. The need of the hour continues to be more active participation from the public, which can be achieved through transparency with regards to air pollution data.

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