By Iain Marlow

Asia’s largest economy, China, has long had a reputation for smoggy skies. But these days, neighboring India is fighting the far bigger battle with pollution: The South Asian country is home to the world’s 10 most polluted cities.

“The major challenge is that people are not consistently demanding improvements in air pollution, as happened in China,” Michael Greenstone, director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, said via e-mail. “This is because the extent to which air pollution is causing people in India to lead shorter and sicker lives is not yet fully recognized.”

India’s government has said some international studies linking air pollution to mortality “may not be realistic” and that the “number of deaths due to air pollution needs to be further investigated and supported by indigenous studies.”

The country’s environment ministry says it’s also making headway in reducing bad air, citing its own calculations for this September when it says levels of PM2.5 came down in Delhi. The ministry has introduced an early warning system to help it take preemptive action before pollution spikes and it’s planned other measures like deploying more road sweeping machines.

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