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Delhi Air Pollution: Biggest culprit this year, and Possible Solutions

Nov 05, 2022

Air Pollution

We will discuss Delhi air pollution and its possible solutions in our today's edition of Current Affairs. Also, the topic's relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus is mentioned below:

For Prelims: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Decision Support, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Vehicular emissions, biomass burning.

For Mains: Usage of Data for Analysis, Findings of the CSE, Initiatives by Delhi Government.

Also read our yesterday's edition of Current affairs on COP26, a year later.


Recently Delhi’s air was recorded the first ‘very poor’ air day of the season, on which the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), analyzed data that indicate that much of the air pollution was caused by vehicular emissions.

Probable Question

State the reason due to which Delhi’s air condition is worsening. Also state the measures taken by the appropriate authorities in this regard.

About the CSE

  • The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is a Delhi-based organization.
  • It is a public-interest research and advocacy organization based in New Delhi.
  • It focuses on environment-related research and advocacy.
  • CSE researches into, lobbies for and communicates the urgency of development that is both sustainable and equitable.
  • Usage of Data for Analysis:
    • The analysis used data from the Decision Support System (DSS) developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). 
    • The DSS provides hourly information on the sources of PM2.5 in Delhi.
    • The model developed by IITM uses an emissions inventory prepared by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in 2018, data from the Central Pollution Control Board monitoring stations, and data from NASA satellites.

Findings of the CSE

  • Vehicular emissions: 
    • It may have contributed around 51% to the PM2.5 levels in Delhi. 
    • They contributed to the nitrogen dioxide levels in the city.
  • Contributors: 
    • Local sources or sources within the city are reported as the biggest contributor to around 32.9% of the city’s pollution, the next largest contribution was 13% from residential sources, and 11% from industries.
    • Construction activities contributed around 7% to PM2.5, followed by 5% each from the burning of waste and the energy sector. 
    • Road dust contributed around 4% to PM2.5 levels.
    • The remaining share came from NCR districts (32.8%), other districts (25.8%), and biomass burning in the neighboring states (9.5%).
  • High level of congestion: It was also noted on many roads with average speed ranging from 27 kmph to 32 kmph, speed being used as an indicator for congestion.
  • Nitrogen dioxide level: Hourly NO2 levels during evenings were also found to peak, could be ranging between 73 µg/m³ to 86 µg/m³. This is the time when congestion is also high.”

Other Contributors

  • Stubble Burning: The share of stubble burning in the neighboring States is increasing, that is also a major contributor to Delhi’s pollution.
  • Meteorological Situation: Biomass burning and localized factors such as vehicular pollution and dust, combined with meteorological situations like changes in the speed of wind or changes in the direction of the wind, lead to a further spike in pollution levels.

Initiatives by Delhi Government

  • The government has formed 586 teams to monitor the construction-demolition ban that has come into force due to rising pollution levels. 
  • It also announced a host of local measures like water sprinkling and anti-smog guns to control localized sources of pollution.
  • The Uttar Pradesh government is also requested by the ministers, to try to avoid the usage of diesel buses in the bordering areas of Delhi at this time.

Way Forward

  • Shift in Public Transport: There is a need for a “verifiable and measurable shift” to public transport by improving access to bus services and integrating metro stations with other modes of transport, and an extensive network of walking and cycling infrastructure to connect neighborhoods.
  • Restraint Measure: Delhi needs congestion and pollution pricing and other restraint measures to control the traffic volume. 
  • Electrification of Vehicles: Targets set for the electrification of the new vehicle fleet should be accelerated and met.

News Source: The Indian Express




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