Why is India more polluted than China? Thirteen of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are Indian.




Balaji Viswanathan

Growing countries get really polluted until they become rich enough to clean up what they created. Think of Dickensian London or US during the Gilded age. It gets really dark before it gets bright again. Being the fastest growing country and the poorest of major economies, it is no wonder that India is the most polluted too.

India is thrice as densely populated as China and it is at a stage where it growing fast enough to add a lot of pollution, but still not rich enough to build solutions fast.

Bad news 1: Coal. India and China are massively adding coal [India's size is a third of China's, but adding equal amount of coal power generation].




译文来源:三泰虎           译者:Joyceliu

Good news 1: Solar. India plans to multiply its solar generation by 2000% in 5 years. The last few years, India is massively investing in solar power and now the cost of solar is below that of coal. India's big move into solar is already paying off and No takers, Coal India cancels expensive auction

It will take a few years for the solar plans to be completely dominate the Indian power scene and remove coal for the most part.



Bad news 2: Biomass. Nearly 67% of India burns biomass such as cowdung and wood as their fuel. They are too poor to afford cleaner fuels. Imagine 750 million people burning things. No wonder Indian air has gone so polluted.


Good news: LPG to all households. In the next 5 years, majority of these biomass burning households will be converted to the much cleaner burning LPG and possibly some to clean electricity.

Kitchen politics – LPG is the key Budget promise for poor women



Bad news 3: Automobiles. Indian roads have a lot of dirt [tar topping is too narrow] and majority of the city transportation happens through polluting vehicles like autorickshaws and diesel buses. When highly polluting autorickshaws hit the dirt on the side while slowly meandering through a traffic choked road, pollution is a natural result.


Good news: Metro rail projects are taking off. In another decade, most of India's major cities will run metro rail rather than the polluting vehicles. Rapid transit in India


Bad news 4: Factories. India is rapidly pushing into manufacturing and in its zeal to attract factories, it is not doing enough enforcement on environmental rules. Oil refineries, leather tanneries and other industries with political power continue to pollute at will.


China, being richer, is already way ahead of India when it comes to using cleaner fuels for domestic cooking, has built rail projects everywhere and slowly started enforcing the pollution standards. India will have to go through the hump.



Siddhartha Banerjee, Middle class man in Kolkata

Mostly India is a alluvial except the mountains of the north, plateaus of central and hills of the south/west. Alluvial soil is very light compared other soil type and forms the top layer. This is not only prone to erosion but causes significant dust by suspension. Even if an area has a considerable green cover, in absence of rain/ground moisture for a few days the soil is prone to be air borne. This is again amplified by the fact that we have most of the rains concentrated during the moonsoon, which means most of year around the conditions are favourable for dust. Even in the remote interiors if the country where there are no industries, you will find considerable amount of dust in the air.


1.The climate is mostly humid including the plains, mountains and most of the plateaus compared to many of the other countries. Even in october you can have 60-70% relative humidity in Delhi and 90+ RH in Kolkata. This basically compounds the smog factor as micro droplets settle over the suspended dust and creates a layer of haze. This increases dramatically during winters when dew point is reached more often, and natural fog combines with these suspended particles.

2.Now coming to the human impact. Political will is slowly recognizing this devil in disguise and have started to act. However environmental regulation is hardly enforced, due to the common perception that let industries grow, we will tackle the mess later. This applies for water and sound pollution too.

3.Vehicular emission is unchecked and not enforced. The latest cars we use are Euro 4 standard, while most of the older vehicles hardly have any pollution certificates. The government vehicles specially are the most polluting ones, which needs immediate action.

1.这里的气候包括平原、山脉和大部分高原地区,与其他许多国家相比大多都较为潮湿。即使在10月份,德里的相对湿度也能达到60-70%,加尔各答的相对湿度也能达到90+ RH。微滴落在悬浮的尘埃上并形成一层雾霾,这基本上就是雾霾形成的多重原因。冬季露水增多,自然雾气会与这些悬浮颗粒结合在一起,这种情况会急剧增加。



4.Unregulated public works activities like relaying asphalt of road repairs are done with archaic technologies where tar is melted and poured over stone chips. This creates huge levels of emissions and again due to high relative humidity and dust, doesn't disperse  immediately. Going back to the earlier points - in places like Mumbai where there is a considerable sea breeze there are more chances of this being dispersed, where as in places like the gangetic belt it is not so.

5.Factories are usually built with their chimneys around 100 feet tall (atleast the old pre modern ones) so that they can get the fair breeze (there is a technical term for this which I am unable to recall), for dispersal of pollutants. This is no more applicable as in cities there are more buildings around the same height.

6.India is probably one of the largest consumers of coal for generation of electricity. When these thermal power plants were constructed they were significantly outside the city limits and close to a good supply chain (river, highways, railways etc). As the population burgeoned the cities grew and gradually have engulfed the power plants.




7.Most of the poor dont have access to LPG and use cow dungs, twigs and barks to light their ovens. This is extremely polluting, which needs to be phased out.

8.There is a huge problem of slash and burn in the country side, and as I highlighted earlier there is a less distinctive geographical boundary between urban and rural these pollutants affect millions now.

9.Restaurants still use tandoor and coal based ovens. Even hawkers in the metros continue to do so unchecked. This is a big problem in Kolkata, where every hawker is now a tandoor master chef, with open pit coal ovens in front of offices. Not only pollution, Kolkata is also know for its fire.




Most of reasoning are my observations, and some might not be fairly accurate. If there are environmental experts in this forum, please help me rectify as applicable



Ram Singh, Indian, Patriot, proud, and all of the above. Loose environmental laws and actions taken against defaulters.

When the pollution emitted by factories is clearly visible, i don’t really think why a strict action cannot be taken immediately.

Instead of closing down the industy, they are given nice affectionate notice letters. Then lawsuits and counter lawsuits are filed, which leads long hearings. then again the lawsuits are fought in courts for months, and guess what by the time its in the courts, 100s of animals have been killed, 100s of trees have died, and 100s of humans have begun to fall ill.

All we now need is strict action against defaulters who pollute the environment. Either you clean up the mess, or empty your factories.




  1. Lack of our will

The 3 major pollution sources in the world are Industries, Transportation, Buildings

Most indians are unwilling to

1.Install pollution control technology to their industries, because it would mean spending more.

2.Regularly getting vehicles checked and serviced because it would mean spending more.

3.Green buildings are not designed and implemented, because, any guesses?

The psyche of today’s Indian people is that to earn money and neglect nature of it comes in the way

Some might give a reason like developing countries tend to go through the same phase. i don’t think that’s an excuse.

  1. 缺乏意志









Vibhinn Gautam, Avid learner of China and its' history.

The reason India is heavily polluted is because...

a.) Indian celebrations, including usage with cow dung, means that methane is released to the air. Methane is more powerful than carbon dioxide.

b.) India's just rapidly advancing. India, just 10 years ago was a lot different than it was now.

c.) When there are huge amounts of people in a small amount of land, pollution is bound to be higher. Such as for USA, CHINA, and INDIA. Notice, Canada pollutes a lot of carbon dioxide. Yet, it remains as one of the least polluted


  1. a) 印度的庆祝活动会使用牛粪,意味着甲烷被释放到空气中。甲烷的威力比二氧化碳大。



d) India is a developing country. Developing countries just think of this: "We should probably focus on economy and stuff, rather than climate change. We'll deal with that later." Developed countries are different, like "Ok, we've got a strong economy and a good ranking on the Global Peace Index, and stuff. Now climate is something we've to tackle." And no offence, but developing countries pollute ever slightly more, because they don't have clean opportunities.

Hopefully you enjoy this post!!




Saka Venkata Satya Prasad, works at Private Clinic Skin

Owning a car was a luxury 30 years ago.

India moved on two wheelers and diesel trains.

Fuel which costed a few rupees is now more costlier.

Transport was a thing of the past and now rapid transport is the new norm.

Economy depends on demand and supply.

Create demand to improve supply.







In comes marketing with thier own mind setting rules and psychological warfare to create a demand of urgency and manufactures items that don't last long.

Result is that consumption increases but quality downgrades.

So what should be done.

One cannot change the way something is being manufactured and hence the thinking changes.

So a dynamic world looks at change that is permanent and investment constant.






To bring about a balance of living and healthy living one pays to live healthy life.

Those who have money pollute those who don't aspire for non polluted world.

Literally the people around the world move on the roads polluting and live in air conditioned houses polluting.

So get along invent a life and plant more trees for they don’t cost much live long and provides oxygen.





Say no to smoking.

Encourage cycles.

Eat more vegetables and have a roof top kitchen garden. They will keep you healthy.

Small points but if many follow will cut down pollution by atleast .001 %






Arun Kumar, Assistant Manager at Punjab National Bank (2016-present)

If you are asking with respect to Indian cities then, North India has more industrial belts and also most of the mineral and natural resources. Hence Usage of mines and Industrial plants in Large scale is the reason for it. Also these plants are made way back in 1960-1980s era and are not upto the current standards of Environment. Further, Environment and its wellbeing has not been priority for India.

One more reason can be that in India, Population is not evenly spread out and hence, a Densely populated area will be exploited by the citizens. So the Metro cities will large amount of Population and no capacity to handle them. Prime example is Delhi and Mumbai.

Next is the Communities are based near rivers and hence magnify the problem above. India which has chronic problem of inability to provide waters to the citizen compels the citizen to use the rivers and water source for their and hence add to it.

India in general relies on Thermal and other forms of energy which adds to the pollution index very much.






Rajneesh Tyagi, Software Tester.

More People = Use of More Vehicles = More Pollution.

More People = More homes required =More Land required = More Construction = More Pollution.

More People = Need more roads connectivity = Need to Cut more Trees = More Pollution.

Limited Place of Employement = More state people at one place = More Transportation = More Pollution.





Small Roads with Cheap quality = More dust = More Pollution.

No use of traffic rules = More traffic jam = More Pollution.

More People = More use of products =More waste material =Less Govt. Support = More Pollution.

More People = More Water Usage = low ground water level =More Pollution.

More People = Cut more Trees = Eat & Kill Animals = Affect the Biological life cycle =Affect balance of Earth (Nature).

More People = Burden on the earth = Invitation to “the end of the world”.








Krishna Khot, Engineer, Introvert, Reader, Learner, Explorer

I think the Indians are more responsible for this pollution.

We Indians have the habit of throwing useless and waste things wherever there is open space without thinking about pollution.

If you consider this attitude then same is true for industries. Industries don't care much about following pollution control measures. They just want to minimize cost of dumping wastes.

The attitude of Indians is the main problem for pollution...

Would like to tell an example. Recently govt launched some new railway coaches which are clean, comfortable and good looking. But after the few days of usage the coach was in very bad condition. The seat was broken, the face washing sink was filled with dirty water and coach was dirty.

This shows our attitude towards pollution.








Ragavan Srinivasan, works at Tata Consultancy Services

In addition to all the other points which our fellow quorans added i think governing policy in our country is one indirect yet prime factor. Not all people have their self interest in protecting our environment, sometimes we need a strong governing body to create fear among people to do the right thing. I feel democracy in our country doesnt do this efficiently for now compared with communist China. I hope this mentality of people will change so that they dont need force to control them to do the right thing



Jay Erickson

World's second populous country is India. So cities are highly polluted with population this is the main reason for India's pollution.

  • Household sewage usually taken to fall in rivers, lakes this leads to water get polluted and raised bad smell and useless for drinking purpose.
  • The use of plastics are increased day by day and after use it throws or burn that causes soil pollution and air pollution.
  • Household chemical detergents using for washing clothes, cleaning bathrooms etc are not completely oxidized, they produce alcohol and organic acid which pollute water and harms living organisms.
  • Smoke released from industrial plants, fuel and engines causes air pollution.


  • 生活污水排入河流、湖泊,导致水体污染,产生难闻的气味,无法饮用。
  • 塑料的使用日益增加,使用后丢弃或燃烧,造成了土壤污染和空气污染。
  • 家用洗衣、洗浴等化学洗涤剂未完全氧化,产生了酒精和有机酸,污染水源,危害生物。
  • 工厂、燃料和发动机排放的烟雾造成了空气污染。


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