Indian metropolitan cities dominate the World Health Organization’s database of most polluted urban areas. Delhi, Gurugram, and Faridabad each appear in the top twelve (by PM2.5 emissions), ensuring that the NCR is a unique ‘gas-chamber’, and likely the most polluted urban megapolis in the world.
The effects are telling. With long-term exposure to toxic air, residents of Delhi are particularly vulnerable to a host of respiratory conditions and endure progressive damage to lung function. With successive administrations failing to address the root causes of the issue, government responses comprise mostly of temporary emergency measures such as restrictions on construction, bans on the entry of commercial vehicles and enforcement of judicial directions related to Diwali crackers.
Due to the prevalence of such stopgap measures and the lack of steady investment to tackle year-round particulate matter, Delhi, with its nearly twenty million inhabitants, remains in a state of predictable pollution paralysis.