Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has released new results from its on-going analysis of air quality trends in Delhi to highlight Delhi’s struggle with air pollution and what it takes to tame and control pollution. After the initiation of comprehensive clean air action plan and graded response action plan, there are early signs of stabilisation and bend in pollution curve, increased number of days in cleaner air quality index categories, and change in the pattern of smog episodes.
The analysis of annual air quality data submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to the Parliament shows that the three-year average of PM2.5 levels during 2016-2018 is 25 per cent lower than the 2011-2014 baseline (three-year average). However, CSE cautions that even after this reduction and stabilisation, Delhi faces the daunting challenge of 65 per cent reduction from the current baseline to meet the clean air standards for PM2.5.
This stabilisiation has been possible because of multi-sector intervention to clean up the vehicle fleet and fuels, tightening of industrial pollution control and phase out of dirty industrial fuels of petcoke, furnace oil and coal, shutting down of down all coal power plants in the city, action on brick kilns and hotspot areas, and dust control in construction sites with some efforts to control pollution from waste.
Says Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy, CSE: “While this level of action has helped in stabilizing the problem, much harder decisions and aggressive action at a scale is needed to achieve 65 per cent cut in PM2.5 to meet the clean air targets.”
Delhi is the microcosm of change that has thrown up important evidence and lessons for other cities. This city and the rest of the country requires massive mobility transition, clean energy and technology transition, and waste reduction transition at a regional level to help meet clean air targets.
Delhi and other cities need to be prepared for third generation action for clean air in terms of implementation, enforcement, compliance, and institutional capacity to implement design rich solutions across all key sectors of pollution. This was discussed by a select group of officials, experts and civil society actors at the Round Table discussion on the next steps for the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), organized by CSE recently.