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AP Photo/Dar Yasin
Leave the big city behind.

The Indian cities you should move to if you don’t want to live with deadly air pollution

By Maria Thomas

India is in the midst of a public health crisis.

New Delhi grabs all the headlines with its visible air pollution, but citizens in most other cities are also suffering. These cities, too, are battling levels of particulate matter (PM) well above the safe limits prescribed by the World Health Organisation and the National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQ) standards.

In 2015, there was no north Indian city that recorded healthy PM levels, a Greenpeace India report, released on Jan. 11, said. Titled Airpocalpyse, Assessment of Air Pollution in Indian Cities, it looked at air quality in 16 states and two union territories.

The report confirmed that air pollution is a national problem, one that needs urgent and diverse solutions. But it also revealed that there were a handful of cities in the south that did offer clean air, undoubtedly benefiting from lower industrial and vehicular pollution.

Here are the places that recorded PM10 levels within the NAAQ annual safe limit of 60 ug/m3.

City State Annual average PM10 level
Hassan Karnataka 25
Mangalore Karnataka 35
Bhadravathi Karnataka 38
Mandya Karnataka 40
Karwar Karnataka 40
Ranebennur Karnataka 46
Mysore Karnataka 46
Chitradurga Karnataka 46
Berhampur Odisha 55
Cuddalore Tamil Nadu 56
Warangal Karnataka 56
Chamrajnagar Karnataka 57
Bidar Karnataka 57
Bellary Karnataka 57
Khammam Telangana 60

For comparison, India’s most crowded metropolises all recorded PM levels above 100 ug/m3 in 2015. Delhi’s annual average was 268 ug/m3, while Bengaluru’s was 119 ug/m3, Mumbai 107 ug/m3, and Kolkata 105 ug/m3.

The study did not include data from the state of Kerala, as well as certain north eastern states, which are likely to also have relatively cleaner air.