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Report Title: Varanasi Pollution: A Follow Up

Year of Publication: 2019

By: Let Me Breathe and Climate Trends


The North Indian city of Varanasi, known for its heritage, has been dealing with extreme air pollution from the past few years which has led to public health emergency in the city. According to reports by the World Health Organization (2018), Varanasi was ranked among the top 3 most polluted cities in the world.

In 2016, a report was released by Indiaspend, CEED and Care4Air called ‘Varanasi Chokes’ exploring the status of air pollution in the Varanasi. Following up on the report, Let Me Breathe along with Climate Trends queried the city’s civic officials and the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board with Right to Information requests between November 2018 and February 2019 to check what progress the city had made in improving its air quality.

The findings suggest that steps were taken towards reducing road dust and manage the traffic but at the same time, trees were cut for infrastructure-development projects, suggesting there may be no net increase in the number of trees.

While the average air quality for PM 2.5 from 2017-2019 had improved to 104 from 206 in 2016, the maximum PM levels breached continued to be above 200, or in the “very poor” category.

Let Me Breathe also hosted its 3rd city session with Twitter India in Varanasi on 14th May 2019 with the aim to find collective solutions to all kinds of pollution issues in Varanasi.