Pune/Mumbai: The Automotive Research Association of India (Arai) and The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri) are conducting an ambient air quality study to identify sources of pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).

Commissioned by the ministry of heavy industries last year, the study, expected to be concluded by August, is the first-of-its-kind in terms of scope and takes into account sources of pollution not just in Delhi but the entire NCR.

It will also lead to a model that can be used to test intervention by legislators, said top officials at Arai and Teri. The study has monitored air quality at 20 locations in the NCR.

“Several changes have taken place in vehicle technology since the last study was done in 2008. Therefore, the data is no more relevant," Rashmi Urdhwareshe, director of Arai, said in an interview.

Such analysis is required to be done through the year as results in summer will be different from the results in winter, she said.

The study, commenced last year and to be published in the third quarter of the current calendar year, will serve as a ready reckoner for decision-makers while drafting policies.

It will take into account all vehicular categories on the basis of fuel type, ages and vintages, technology, engine size and their contribution to pollution.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014 ranked Delhi as the world’s most polluted city.  It has seen slew of interventions by the government and the judiciary to curb air pollution in the recent past.

In December 2015, the Supreme Court banned registration of big diesel cars with an engine size of more than 2 litres. The ban was lifted in August 2016  on condition that  automakers would have to pay a levy equal to 1% of the ex-showroom price of diesel vehicles with an engine capacity above 2000cc.

In January last year, the Delhi government undertook a two-week road rationing experiment, which restricted vehicles with licence plates ending in odd and even numbers to plying on alternate days to combat air pollution.

Earlier this year, the apex court adopted a firm stand, putting a blanket ban on sale and registration of BSIII vehicles with effect from 1 April.

The Teri-Arai study will have a model that can be used to a test an intervention by the legislators to gauge its impact on the air quality, said Sumit Sharma, associate director, earth sciences and climate change at Teri.

Citing the instance of the "Odd Even Scheme", Sharma pointed out that “nobody could assess the real impact of the scheme on the air pollution level. Now we have a model in place which can tell you exactly the impact you can expect".

The scope of the latest study is wider as compared to previous ones and aims to ascertain pollution sources not only in Delhi but the whole of the NCR, extending it to Panipat in the north to Alwar in the south.

“We are taking into account sources which are not within the city but outside the city limit," said Sharma.

The  industrial units and power plants might have been moved out of Delhi but when the wind blows from north to south, it carries the pollutants not only from the same industrial units, but also the ones arising from local sources that includes agricultural burning, brick kilns et cetera, defeating the purpose, he said.

The other objective of the study, explained Sharma, is to assess the potential of the strategy which can bring down air pollution levels in city of Delhi. “We have made policies in a ad-hoc manner, we haven’t been able to say that this is the net impact of this strategy that one can see,"  he said, adding that the latest study aims to change that and it’s going to quantify the impact of different strategies.

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