Maximum polluted countries in the world: India, Bangladesh and Pakistan exceed China

Pakistani children walk to school in heavy smog in Lahore on November 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ARIF ALI (Photo credit should read ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
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New Delhi: The maximum polluted country in the world is Bangladesh, closely followed by Pakistan and India; as far as the most toxic cities are concerned, the sad record belongs to India. 

The data appears from a study carried out by the BBC, which shows how the level of pollution has been radically reduced in China, a nation that in the past held the most unliveable podium in terms of air toxicity.

The article by the British agency quotes the report on the maximum polluted cities in the world entitled “World Air Quality Report”, compiled by IQ Air Visual in collaboration with Greenpeace. Experts have found that out of 30 of the world’s most polluted urban centers, 22 are in India; and the remaining eight are in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Beijing, on the other hand, which in 2014 was declared “almost unlivable for man”, fell to 122nd place.

In these days the images coming from India and in particular from the capital Delhi are enveloped by a blanket of smog. 

The chief factors that increase the toxicity of air in cities are traffic, fossil fuels from incinerators and discharges from heavy industries. The difference between China and India, experts say, is that in the second country the practice of burning crop residues is widespread to fertilize the fields in view of the sowing of the following year.

According to prof. Thomas Smith of the London School of Economics, “it is wrong to underestimate the impact of agricultural fires, although people generally believe that the main causes are car and industrial exhaust gases”.

 Beijing has completely banned the fires; but Delhi endures them. Not only that, rural areas north of the capital are a receptacle for fires in the autumn season.

To reduce the smog, at the beginning of November the Indian Supreme Court ran for cover and imposed the blockade of agricultural camp fires in the states surrounding the capital. 

Previously, in October 2018 — it had banned toxic fireworks for the Hindu festival of Diwali (the lantern festival), allowing the sale of only — “green” and environmentally friendly firecrackers. Though, rather than decreasing toxicity levels, the ban produced two similarly negative effects: the collapse of the pyrotechnic industry, which employs thousands of poor people in Tamil Nadu; and the increase in illegal imports, precisely from China.