Need to tackle all sources of pollution at regional level to improve Delhi situation: Experts

·3-min read

New Delhi, Mar 17 (PTI) Environment experts feel there is a need to tackle all sources of pollution at the regional level to improve the situation in Delhi, which has topped the list of world's most polluted capital cities for the third year on the trot.

However, the national capital should not overemphasize what other states should be doing and do its best to control locally-generated pollution, they said. In 2020, New Delhi's average annual concentration of PM2.5 was 84.1 microgram per cubic meter, more than double the level of Beijing which averaged 37.5 µg/m3 during the year, according to a report by a Swiss group that measures air quality levels based on the concentration of the lung-damaging fine particles.

The industrial sector accounts for more than 20 percent of the PM2.5 concentration in Delhi. Therefore, it is important that all industries in the entire National Capital Region (NCR) switch to gaseous fuels, Sumit Sharma, Director (Earth Science and Climate Change), TERI, said.

In the transport sector, there is a need to improve the public transport system, reduce private vehicle usage and modernise the fleet, he said.

'Another issue is the dependence on biomass fuels outside Delhi. To eliminate it, there is a need to provide subsidised LPG to the poorest of the poor,' Sharma said.

Dipankar Saha, former air lab chief of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), said dust pollution is a major problem in the entire north India.

'Around 70 percent of the dust comes from outside Delhi, but we can control the remaining 30 percent. It will bring down toxicity levels and reduce the air pollution-related death rate,' he said.

Air pollution caused an estimated 54,000 premature deaths in New Delhi in 2020, according to a recent study by Greenpeace Southeast Asia Analysis and IQAir.

'Besides conducting research, there is an urgent need to work on geography-based information,' Saha said.

Santosh Harish, a fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, said there has to be a strategy that tackles all major sources of pollution in parallel, with responsibilities of each municipal corporation and the government clearly spelt out.

'There is a need to tackle pollution at regional level and the Commission for Air Quality Management was an important step in this direction. Also, Delhi also should not overemphasize on what other states should be doing. There is enough to be done with regards to municipal waste and road dust,' he said. The World Air Quality report by Swiss technology company IQAir, released on Tuesday, said 22 of the top 30 most polluted cities globally are in India. Delhi was followed by Dhaka and Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. Within South Asia, Indian cities of Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Bisrakh, Jalalpur, Bhiwadi and Noida are the top five most polluted regional cities.

Reacting to the report, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday said air pollution in the national capital has reduced by 15 percent over the years due to the efforts of the AAP government and 'it is now up to the Centre to do its bit'.

'Of the top 10 polluted cities, nine are in Uttar Pradesh. Delhi used to be polluted, but the condition is improving slowly... The reason for this reduction is the consistent and diligent efforts of the Arvind Kejriwal government,' he said.

Rai said the AAP government brought important policies on fuel change, tree transplantation, and electric vehicles, and installed smog guns in worse-affected areas.

Delhi is the first in the country to shut down its power thermal plants, Rai said.

He said that the Centre's intention is clear, as it has done nothing to shut down polluting thermal power plants and brick kilns operating in neighbouring states. PTI GVS ZMN