India PM and Environment Minister
India's Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has hit out at a WHO report citing a number of Indian cities as the world's most polluted.PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

India's government has hit out at a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which names more than 30 Indian cities among the world's hundred most polluted. Indian Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar, said on 18 May that the report was "misleading" and that India would soon be publishing air pollution data on major cities in the United States and Europe.

The WHO report, published on 12 May, noted that four out of the world's five most polluted cities are in India, including Gwalior, Allahabad, Patna and Raipur. Environment Minister Javadekar has since said that the WHO report had not taken into account key pollutants and that only basing the report on Particulate Matter levels was not presenting an accurate picture.

Javadekar told the Press Trust of India: "There is ozone pollution, benzene pollution, sulphur dioxide pollution among eight major pollutants. All have adverse impact on health. ON each parameter, each pollutant, there are different cities in the world which are bad and good. We will come out with the statistics as people should know the whole picture. Otherwise, [making the report only] on PM 2.5 is misleading."

Air pollution levels are measured by Particulate Matter (PM) under 2.5 micrograms found in every cubic metre of air, with PM referring to the mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air. The Indian capital of Delhi, known for its high levels of air pollution, is listed in WHO's report as the 11th most polluted city in the world.

Javadekar questioned why Western countries focus on India and other developing countries, rather than themselves. However, he insisted that the Indian government's decision to publish data about other countries is not a counter move, but one that would spread awareness.

"Every citizen has the right to have full knowledge," Javadekar said. "PM 2.5 is not the only pollutant. There are many cities in the Western countries as well which are suffering. So let citizens know that pollution problem is all over, in different categories and degrees."