India should follow the example of China in order to clean up the atmosphere in its cities, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. According to the lastest WHO report, India has 14 out of 15 of the world’s most polluted cities. Kanpur topped the list. Other cities include Faridabad, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Gaya, Patna, Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala, and Jodhpur. Beijing, capital of China and once the world’s most polluted city, has disappeared from the rankings. The air pollution database of WHO studied 4000 cities in 100 countries in terms of PM10 and PM2.5 from years 2010 to 2016. Uttar Pradesh (UP) has the highest number of cities in the top 15, followed by Bihar, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, and Punjab. The WHO report points out how breathing is injurious to health not only in India’s big cities but also the smaller towns. North India’s air, generally, is more poisonous than the South.

Air pollution is creating havoc with the lives of North Indians’ and shortening lifespans and degrading the iconic heritage sites such as the Taj Mahal. The WHO database is based on particulate matter under 2.5 micrograms that is found in every cubic meter of air.

On the other hand, cities of China such as Xingtai and Shijiazhuang have taken strides in controlling air pollution. WHO Head of Public Health, Maria Neira, said: China had made quite big improvements which India should follow.

“There’s a big step at the government level (in China), declaring war on the air pollution,” said Neira. “One of the reasons that health argument was strongly presented and the fact that citizens were breathing air which was totally unacceptable.”

“We would be happy if we’d see a similar movement in India, which is one of the countries for which we are concerned, although there are initiatives which can be put in place, still levels are high. We would like to see a similar decision and leadership.”

According to the World Health Organization, 9 out of 10 people on Earth breathe polluted air and that it kills 7 million people each year, most of them from poor countries in Asia and Africa such as India and China. A quarter of deaths from stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer can be traced to air pollution, says the WHO.

Outdoors air pollution remains high whereas indoor air pollution continues to get worse in several poor countries as people cook with solid fossil fuels such as coal or kerosene, rather than cleaner fuels like gas and electricity. It looks like the transition to green fuel and tech is slow. WHO assessment is based on satellite data.