In a rather disturbing development that would raise concerns among the environmentalists in the city, the World Air Quality Report 2021 by IQAir has listed Hyderabad to be one of the most polluted areas in India. They had seen an alarming rise in particulate matter (PM 2.5) levels from 34.7 ug/m3 in 2020 to 39.4 ug/m3 in 2021.
The report incidentally took into account cities in 117 countries. Hyderabad finds itself in the fourth spot as the worst polluted city in India, right after Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai. The culprit, as many would guess, is the increasing number of vehicles on roads and the shooting up of vehicular pollution. The report notes: It is estimated that 20% to 35% of total urban PM2.5 concentrations is directly or indirectly due to internal combustion engines in motor vehicles. And it is no good news that annual vehicle sales are only expected to go up with an estimated increase in vehicle numbers reaching 10.5 million by 2030.
Nearer home, the State Transport Department data stated that there were 1.45 crore vehicles in Telangana, of which 60 lakh were in Hyderabad itself, and 90% of these are privately owned vehicles. However, the pollution does not limit itself to Hyderabad alone. A recent answer tabled in Lok Sabha found that four areas in Telangana were categorized as Non-Attainment Cities (NCAs) under the National Clean Air Programme by the Ministry of Environment. The districts of Hyderabad, Nalgonda, Patancheru, and Sangareddy fall into this category.
For the unversed, cities fall under the NCA category if they consistently do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM 10.