According to the ‘World Air Quality Report 2023’, released by Swiss air quality monitoring body, IQAir, Nagaland’s capital Kohima, once ranked 643rd in 2022 among the world’s most polluted cities, has now surged to 465th place out of 7812 cities . The city’s PM2.5 annual average stands at 33.9 micrograms per cubic meter, surpassing WHO guidelines by 5 to 6 times.

India, formerly ranked eighth globally for pollution, has witnessed a concerning rise in pollution levels, now earning the title of the world’s third most polluted country. According to the report, PM2.5 levels soared to approximately 11 times higher than the WHO standard. Despite marginal improvements in 2023, with an average annual PM2.5 concentration of 54.4 micrograms per cubic meter, India’s air quality lags behind all but two countries – Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Bihar’s Begusarai has captured global attention as the most polluted metropolitan area, boasting a staggering average PM2.5 concentration of 118.9 micrograms per cubic meter, surpassing all other metropolitan areas despite its absence from previous year’s rankings. Guwahati, Delhi, and Mullanpur in Punjab closely followed in the rankings.

Delhi, India’s capital, continues to grapple with severe air pollution, marking its fourth consecutive year as the world’s most polluted capital city. According to the IQAir report, Delhi’s PM2.5 levels worsened to 92.7 micrograms per cubic meter in 2023, a significant increase from 89.1 micrograms per cubic meter in 2022.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor emphasized the severity of the situation, highlighting that the top four polluted cities globally are all located in India. Urging governmental action, Tharoor described the situation as a public health emergency demanding immediate attention.

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