Air pollution in the south: Here’s what Bengaluru, Hyderabad and other cities are inhaling

A new report by Greenpeace India has collected data from ten cities to reveal the alarming incidence of air pollution in southern India.

A latest report by Greenpeace India reveals that average air pollution levels in ten major cities of Southern India far exceed the latest World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, by analysing the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s data. The analysis is a much needed reminder that air pollution is a public health crisis that is not confined to cities only in Northern India. 

What data reveals

Air pollution data from ten cities – Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Amaravati, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Mangalore, Puducherry, Coimbatore and Mysore – were selected and analysed based on the availability of data, population and monitoring station networks. It was found that despite pandemic-induced lockdowns and subsequent reduction in economic activities, the annual average values of PM2.5 and PM10 exceeded WHO revised standards by many folds.

Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Mangalore and Amaravati saw annual PM2.5 levels exceed WHO guidelines of 5 µg/m3 by 6 to 7 times. While in Mysuru, Kochi, Chennai and Pondicherry, PM2.5 levels exceeded the guidelines by 4 to 5 times. 

In comparison, while annual PM10 levels in Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad exceeded the prescribed WHO guidelines of 15 µg/m3 by 6 to 7 times, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Amaravati, Chennai and Kochi recorded data that exceeded the limit by 3 to 4 times. Mysore, Coimbatore and Pondicherry recorded PM10 data that exceeded the WHO guidelines for safe air by 2 to 3 times. 

PM2.5 concentrations in air in south indian cities
Air pollution in southern cities have exceeded WHO standards | Data by Greenpeace India

The primary contributors to worsening the air quality are fossil fuel powered infrastructural  development, industries, transport, waste burning and construction activity. Chronic exposure to air pollution increases the likelihood of asthma, low birth weight, depression, schizophrenia, diabetes, stroke, lung cancer and can cause premature deaths.

Read more: Will 2022 bridge the yawning gaps in national and state level clean air action?

Sustainability and affirmative action

Commenting on the analysis, Avinash Chanchal, Campaign Manager, Greenpeace India says: “The data shows that lockdown is not a solution to air pollution. Relatively lesser economic activity and vehicles is also putting us in a dangerous position. We have to prioritize the immediate shift to clean energy and clean transport to stop more damage. If we look at Bengaluru’s PM10 data, the annual average in most stations is exceeding not only WHO guidelines, but NAAQS levels too.

PM10 concentrations in air in southern cities
Data from Greenpeace India

“Making our urban transport networks accessible and sustainable can play a major role in combating India’s urban air pollution crisis. Majority of the population in these cities is already using public transport or sustainable ways of transportation. But the infrastructural focus is still on private vehicles. Efforts and lifestyle of the masses must be appreciated and encouraged as they are contributing to making our cities sustainable.” Avinash Chanchal

“The pollution control boards must realise that no level of air pollution is safe and even the long term exposure of lower level of concentrations of air pollution can severely impact human health. Thus, the CPCB must revise the current national ambient air quality standards for all pollutants based on WHO’s proposed interim target and  gradually achieve the revised standards.” he adds.

Greenpeace India’s Power The Pedal campaign is working with low-wage women labourers in Bengaluru and Delhi with the aim of building cycling communities that will act as agents of change. The first 500 bicycles are being delivered in the first phase. Honamma, a 38-year-old garment factory labourer from the IT capital says that she feels proud she is part of the solution to her city’s pollution problems. “I am proud that since I am cycling I am not adding to the problem. But there are not enough facilities for cyclists. We don’t have enough cycle tracks and are constantly exposed to a lot of pollution from other vehicles. So if we have a separate lane then it will be better. There are parking facilities for motorists, we need such facilities for cyclists as well. If we want change then we have to ensure such facilities are provided.”

This article is based on a Press Release and information shared by Greenpeace India and has been published here with minimal edits.

Also read:


  1. Lakshmi nilakantan says:

    Air pollution is a silent killer many do not have the slightest idea how it affects our lungs. Young children and elderly are very much affected by air pollution. Itchy eyes, nasal congestion, sneezing and asthma are becoming common these days. Everybody wants to own a car nobody bothers about using public transportation or car pool . The increased number of cars on road is mainly driving air pollution and green house gases. Schools should advise parents to use school bus or walkers /bicycles . These days when I go to drop kids at school ( we walk) I see none walk or use school bus every kid proudly gets down from car. Without knowing what we are paying for a car ride, our kids health/ and their future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Smothered by smog: Struggle of vegetable vendors in Delhi’s Keshopur Mandi

Delhi's air pollution affects every resident, but for the urban poor, like vegetable vendors of Keshopur Mandi, it is much worse.

Halfway through our interview, vegetable vendor Rekha asked me point blank, “Isse kya hoga,” and at that moment, I could not think of an answer. She was right and had every reason to be hopeless. Much has been written about air pollution and much energy has been spent on expert committees and political debates and yet nothing has changed.  “Hum toh garib log hai, hum kisko jakar bole, hamari sunvai nahin hoti” (We are poor people, to whom do we go, nobody listens to us),” says Rekha Devi, who sells vegetables in the Keshopur Mandi. Keshopur is a large retail…

Similar Story

Study shows TNPCB ill-equipped to monitor the environmental impact of pollution

The scientific team of TNPCB is working at half its strength, affecting the Board's ability to carry out inspections in Chennai and other parts of the State.

The Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards are the primary custodians for preventing and controlling all forms of pollution in our country. Despite their significant role in environmental protection, the public is mostly unaware of the functions of these regulatory bodies, due to insufficient research. Therefore, we at Citizen consumer & civic Action Group (CAG) have attempted to understand the functions of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), through a study titled ‘The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board in Retrospect: An Examination of Selected Parameters from 2017 to 2022.’ Read more: Fisherfolk lament as environmental…