Is Delhi losing the pollution battle?


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Delhi is in danger of losing the gains of its CNG programme as pollution levels are once again creeping up to pre-2000 level. A latest analysis of recent air quality data in Delhi carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) finds that pollution levels are on the upswing again after a few years of control. Last winter, for the first time, pollution levels increased and this year pollution levels are already almost as high as what was in the city in pre-CNG days.

Says Sunita Narain, director, CSE: “We will have to take tough measures to control growing air pollution and fast. Otherwise, Delhi will find itself in the choked and toxic haze of the pre-CNG days, when diesel-driven buses and autos had made it one of the most polluted cities on earth.”

Published in: Technology, Health & Medicine
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Is Delhi losing the pollution battle?

  1. 1. Is Delhi losing the pollution battle? Centre for Science and Environment Press conference New Delhi, November 6, 2007
  2. 2. Ten years ago….
  3. 5. 2000-04: Delhi made the first quantum leap On fuel quality Introduced low sulphur fuels and p etrol with 1 per cent benzene Mandated pre-mix petrol to two - and three-wheelers On vehicle technology Enforced Bharat stage II emissions standards in 2000, five years ahead of schedule (BS III in 2005) On alternative fuels Implemented largest ever CNG programme Largest ever public transport bus fleet on natural gas Other cross cutting policy measures Capped the number of three-wheelers Phased out 15 year old commercial vehicles Strengthened vehicle inspection programme (PUC) Efforts made to bypass transit traffic Set up independent fuel testing laborator ies to check fuel adulteration
  4. 6. It made a difference…avoided huge amount of pollution
  5. 7. Ominous signs….
  6. 8. Winter of 2007. Its smog. Still air, dust, smoke, low visibility…lungs are choked again… Source: Teri Daily average levels Monitoring at ITO, Delhi (Aug to October 2007)
  7. 9. Source: Teri Winter Woes ITO (monthly average of PM10 and NO2 in winter months of Sept to Feb during 1998-2006)
  8. 10. Deadly particles: After a short respite the curve turns upward Source: Teri
  9. 11. NOx levels: rising steadily Source: Teri NAAQS (R) 60 microgram per cubicmetre
  10. 12. Health burden <ul><li>Pollution level of 1991-92: World Bank estimated 7,491 premature deaths in Delhi. </li></ul><ul><li>As PM10 drops between 1993 and 2002, World Bank estimates saving of 3,629 lives per year. </li></ul><ul><li>2006-07: Levels are up again. We are yet to estimate the death toll today. It could be critically high. </li></ul><ul><li>-- Even an increase of only 10 microgramme/cu m of PM2.5 leads to significant increases in health risks. High exposure increase hospitalisation for asthma, lung diseases, chronic bronchitis, heart damage and lung cancer.  </li></ul><ul><li>-- 65% of Delhites have impaired lung function (CNCI 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>-- 26% of Delhiites have undergone chromosomal damage due to air pollution that can be precursor to cancer (CNCI study 2004-05) </li></ul>
  11. 13. Is Delhi running to stand still?
  12. 14. Uncontrolled vehicle numbers swamp change *fiscal year Three fold increase since 1991 Vehicular growth correlates strongly with rising NOx levels
  13. 15. Unsustainable: Phenomenal increase in daily registration of vehicles Source: Teri
  14. 16. Influx from outside Personal vehicles dominate incoming traffic. Daily influx of vehicles through 10 key entry points. Nizamuddin bridge: nearly 80 per cent of the traffic in the morning is from outside. In the evening peak hour, 75% of vehicles in ITO are from outside
  15. 17. Choked….. Source: IL&FS 2004 as quoted in CDP Delhi <ul><li>Traffic volume exceeds the designed capacity of most of the capital’s key arterial roads. </li></ul><ul><li>NH8 (Delhi-Gurgaon) is designed for a peak traffic volume of 160,000 vehicles by 2015. There are already 130,000 vehicles fighting for space! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crawling traffic in Delhi: Average vehicular speed drops from 20-27 km/hr in 1997 to only 15 km/hr in 2002. </li></ul></ul>13617 10981 AIIMS to Dhaula Kuan 12493 10959 B. S Gurudwara to AIIMS 10726 8004 Dhaula Kuan to Raja Garden Actual Peak volume (PCU per hour) in 2002 Peak designed capacity (PCU per hour) Other road segments
  16. 18. Vehicle Emissions vis-à-vis Speed Pollution impact of congestion
  17. 19. Dieselised Diesel cars, jeep and vans in Delhi 1999: Diesel cars only 2% of the new car sales in Delhi. 2007: Diesel cars are 30% of new car sales 2010: It is projected to be 50% of the sales Red alert on diesel exhaust Agency Probable human carcinogen WHO IPCS (1996) Probable human carcinogen IARC (1989) Potential occupational carcinogen NIOSH (1988) Potential to cause cancer HEI (1995) Toxic air contaminant CARB (1998) Likely human carcinogen US EPA (2002)
  18. 20. Diesel cars: license to pollute One diesel car emits as much NOx as 3 to 5 petrol cars. PM is several times higher Even at a conservative estimate, the total number of diesel cars presently in Delhi is equivalent to adding particulate emissions from nearly 30,000 diesel buses.
  19. 21. Diesel emissions: several times more toxic
  20. 22. CNG bus programme: Big gains NOx emissions from Euro II CNG bus: 1.2 times lower than diesel buses Source: Teri PM emissions from Euro II CNG bus: more than 50 times lower than Euro II diesel buses
  21. 23. Buses still meet very high share of travel demand. But wrong policies discourage them Yet buses bear significantly higher tax burden in India. Tax correction can push a large number of two wheeler users to buses
  22. 24. Solution: Public transport But progress very slow Public transport projects under implementation High capacity bus system – 100km Metro plan -- 245 km planned Purchase of new buses: Delhi fails to meet the target of 10,000 buses set by the Supreme Court. The city is short of roughly 4000 buses. Plans to buy 4500 new buses.
  23. 25. Need urgent aggressive measures Small steps cannot save lives Reinvent Mobility to reduce car usage Implement all the public transport projects on schedule Connect the satellite towns in the NCR with an effective public transport Implement strategies and tax policies to control numbers and usage of personal cars Technology roadmap Leapfrog emissions and fuel standards to Euro IV. Get clean diesel or restrict dieselisation