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Delhi, Kolkata have worst air quality in India: Report

NEW DELHI: With the World Heath Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer declaring air pollution as a major cause of cancer, its findings have put the focus on Indian hotspots like Delhi, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Jharkhand which showed high concentration of life-threatening air pollutants.

Air quality data of the government's pollution watchdog, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), for 2010 - the last one in the series of such reports on air quality across the country - shows that Kolkata and Delhi are among the worst affected cities in terms of air pollution.

In fact, figures compiled by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for 2009-11 vindicate what the world health body has concluded while putting 'air pollution' in the same category as tobacco, UV radiation and plutonium as lung cancer causing agents.

Quoting the ICMR data which showed that the highest number of lung cancer cases was reported during 2009-11 in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, noted environmentalist and director general of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Sunita Narain said, "It is a worrying development. We need to take urgent steps to find ways to deal with the menace of air pollution which directly affects our health."

She added, "It's not that we can't do it. Taking the message from what the WHO-backed scientific research has found, the government must immediately make Euro-IV norms in vehicles mandatory across the country and stop incentivizing car users. Government must also focus on public transport in a big way to minimize vehicular air pollution on priority basis."

The Times of India (19-10-2013)