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Capital punishment: Delhi-ites choking on diesel

Capital punishment: Delhi-ites choking on diesel
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First Published: Wed, Jun 06 2007. 01 29 PM IST

Over the past ten years, total personal vehicle registrations in Delhi  have risen 105%; cars alone have increased 157%, diesel cars have risen 425%
Over the past ten years, total personal vehicle registrations in Delhi have risen 105%; cars alone have increased 157%, diesel cars have risen 425%
Updated: Wed, Jun 06 2007. 01 29 PM IST
New Delhi: Analysts estimate that car emissions kill twice as many people as car crashes. In metro cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, the main sources of air pollution are motor vehicle emissions. New Delhi, the capital of India figures prominently in the world environment map for the simple reason that it is one of the most polluted cities in the world. That dubious distinction is the product of spectacular vehicle growth in the past 2-3 decades.
A new assessment by New Delhi-based NGO, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has found that during winter months since 1998 pollution in winter, except for a decrease until 2003, has begun to rise again.
CSE attributes the rising pollution largely to the rapid growth in diesel cars in the city. Over the past ten years, the total personal vehicle registration has increased 105%; cars alone have increased 157% and diesel cars have increased 425%.
Over the past ten years, total personal vehicle registrations in Delhi have risen 105%; cars alone have increased 157%, diesel cars have risen 425%
In fact, diesel-run vehicles in 2006 represented nearly 20% of new car registration in Delhi, up from 4% in 1999. While gasoline cars have increased at 8.5% a year, the diesel variety has maintained a growth rate of 16.6%.
The cumulative effect is overwhelming the emissions benefits gained by the city’s earlier phase-out of 12,000 diesel buses. CSE estimates the emission from 118,631 diesel cars on the city’s roads is equivalent to particulate emission from nearly 30,000 buses that run on the same fuel.
Delhi tackled its earlier pollution problem by implementing one of the largest CNG programs in the world, implementing Euro-II and Euro-III standards, reducing the sulphur content in fuel to 500 parts per million (ppm( and subsequently to 350 ppm, lowering benzene to 1% and capping the age of commercial vehicles at 15 years. These first-generation mitigation efforts helped stabilize particulates and substantially lower sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide levels. However, CSE notes, particulate levels, despite stabilization, are still very high and Nitrous oxide levels are steadily rising.
Pollution in India can rise to alarming levels by the middle of the century unless urgent action is taken, says a study by The Energy Research Institute.
The group estimates that under current conditions, the suspended particulate matter load in India’s air will rise to 52 million tonnes by 2047, up from 17 million in 1997. Methane released from landfills will rise from 7 million to 39 million tonnes during the same period. The study cited industrial production, motor vehicles and fossil fuels as the biggest potential contributors to rising pollution.
lipi.m@livemint.com
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First Published: Wed, Jun 06 2007. 01 29 PM IST
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