Top urban news, trends and reports curated for the world’s city leaders. Edited by David Hatch

Step one for Delhi: Acknowledge the air pollution problem

After years of denial, India's capital is coming to terms with its dirty air. (Kyodo /Landov)

The first step in any treatment program is for an addict to admit that he or she has a problem. So it goes with cities and air pollution.

Gardiner Harris reports for the New York Times that after years of denial, Delhi residents increasingly accept that India’s capital has the dubious distinction of being home to the world’s filthiest air.

There are telltale signs of the attitude shift. White surgical masks common in Chinese cities are increasingly visible on Delhi streets. After the U. S. Embassy purchased 1,800 “high end” air purifiers for staffers’ homes, other embassies followed suit, the article says. Some Indian companies are installing filtration systems to cleanse indoor air.

During his trip to India last month, U. S. President Barack Obama heralded new pollution monitoring and reduction agreements that underscore India’s get-tough response, the Times reports. But other policies appear poised to worsen the problem. Even as hospital visits for respiratory ailments surge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to double the use of coal — a major source of air pollution — over five years to jump start the economy, Harris writes. 

New York Times

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