A study conducted by Yale and Columbia Universities, ranks India at the lowest on the quality of air with regard to its effect on human health, among 132 countries. India scored a meagre 3.73 out of a possible 100 points in the analysis, lagging way behind Bangladesh, the next worst performer, which scored 13.66.
In fact, the whole of the South Asian region fared exceedingly poorly with Nepal, Pakistan and China taking up the remaining spots in the bottom five of the rankings.
The rankings form part of a wider study that aims to study the nations of the world on the basis of their overall environmental performance. The Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia's Center for International Earth Science Information Network bring out Environment Performance Index rankings every two years starting with 2006.
In the overall rankings which factors in 22 policy indicators, India fared marginally better, but was still stuck in the last 10 ranks along with environmental laggards such as Iraq, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The top end of the scale, was dominated by European nations of Switzerland, Latvia and Norway which captured the top slots in the index.
India performed relatively better, over the last two years in sectors such as forests, fisheries, biodiversity and climate change, but as regards water - both in terms of the ecosystem effects to water resources and the human health effects of water quality - the Indian performance was extremely poor.
The Index report was presented at the World Economic Forum currently under way at Davos, where it is being sought to be presented as a means to identify the leaders and the laggards on energy and environmental challenges prior to the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development scheduled to be held in Brazil this June.