India has become the third-most polluted country and Delhi most polluted capital in the world.

The 2020 World Quality Report said that India experienced the worst air quality in this region.

Delhi has once again been rated as the most polluted capital city in the world, despite COVID-19 lockdowns which improved air quality in many cities in 2020, said a global ranking of polluted cities released on Tuesday.

Dhaka, Ulaanbaatar, Kabul and Doha are among the world’s top five most polluted capital cities, ranking second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Toxic air placed Bishkek (6th), Sarajevo (7th), Manama (8th) and Jakarta (9th) on the ranking list. Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, situated at the foothills of Himalaya, rounded out the top 10.

South Asia emerged as the most polluted region, with Bangladesh, India and Pakistan sharing 42 of the 50 most polluted cities worldwide. The report also rated Delhi the most polluted capital city of the world in 2018 and 2019.

The global rankings for polluted cities, prepared by IQAir’s World Air Quality Report 2020, calculates air quality based on fine particulate matter PM2.5 concentration in air. Air pollution has become one of the world’s most significant health hazards, contributing to about seven million premature deaths annually.

“The year 2020 brought an unexpected dip in air pollution. In 2021, we will likely see an increase in air pollution due to human activity, again,” said Frank Hammes, CEO of IQAir.

More than 80 percent of the countries ranked in the report showed improvement in air quality due to travel restrictions taken to control the spread of COVID-19. Compared to 2019, pollution levels dropped by 15 percent in Delhi, 11 percent in Beijing and 17 percent in London.

“While many cities recorded temporary improvements in air quality due to lockdowns, the health impact of burning fossil fuels remained severe. Unfortunately, Delhi continued to be the most polluted capital in the world in 2020,” said Avinash Chanchal, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace India.

But the reduction in emission level resulted in only 24 out of 106 monitored countries meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) annual threshold for PM2.5 concentrations in air in 2020.


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