Air Pollution | Centre for Science and Environment

Air Pollution


Air Pollution

Winter and Diesel cars

by Anumita Roychowdhury, Right To Clean Air Campaign

Even without looking at the air pollution figures we know from the darkened sky-line that Delhi's air quality gains will be lost this winter. Air has begun to get heavy with dust, smoke and particles. Calm and cool weather is blocking the dispersal of smoke and pollutants. Low-hanging shroud impairs visibility, chokes lungs. Winter is a seasonal statement of the growing pollution crisis, a cyclical reminder of our inability to put into action the real solutions.

CLEAN AIR HAS VOTES TOO

It is easy to take credit for success but not ownership for the problem. It is even easier if a small whiff of success allows you to wish away the problem altogether. Not more determined to solve it. The Assembly polls are only a fortnight away in Delhi. All political parties have pitched their battle cry to a crescendo. But there is not even a whisper on future action on air pollution. The political perception is that air pollution is under control. Illogical but true -- some action can breed more inaction!

Fiscal Planners: The Class that Failed

Hit where it hurts most. Improving technology to cut emissions is expensive. So let it be. No need to take care of the extra cost -- even if it means compromising on clean air and public health. So obtuse and damaging! But so are our finance mandarins in the North block. They have culled all proposals for a fiscal strategy to meet tighter fuel and emissions standards. This dismissal of fiscal solution to technology transition blocks further negotiation to tighten the dismally weak technology roadmap of the Auto Fuel policy.

The Right to Inform

Our government rarely ever looks at the air quality data it spawns. Data demands action. Feigning ignorance relieves such stress. Except that the Indian Judiciary does not allow easy escapes. The Union government was caught off guard in the recent Supreme Court hearing in the on going public interest litigation on air pollution in Delhi. It is the chief justice bench that looked carefully at the latest air quality data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Devil's Engine

"We told you so!…" Facts prove us right and confirm our worst fears. Car registration data in Delhi point to an explosive trend in diesel passenger car sales -- a shattering 106 percent annual incremental growth rate since 1998-99 as against 12 percent for petrol cars. This murky detail is straight out of the computers of the State Transport Authority of Delhi. The city, working hard to douse toxic diesel particulates from its bus fleet with CNG, completely missed to notice the problem shifting around.

Modelling politics

Politics of fine print - yes, that’s what it is. The kind that crawl in without anybody noticing, but they change everything. The version of Auto Fuel Policy that got the Union Cabinet nod in October 2003 is not the same as the original recommendations.

NOXious trail

Over the last few weeks we were inundated with queries from the media. The air quality data produced by the apex air quality monitoring body in the country - the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shows NOx levels in Delhi rising dramatically. Why? We were equally curious - has CPCB explained the reasons? According to media reports, the CPCB is blaming the CNG programme in Delhi for the rise in NOx levels.

Tale of low hanging fruits

The World Bank has finally released its policy guidelines on mobile source pollution for regulators in the developing region. What is significant is the global mobilisation of science that was made to bear upon the views of the Bank on technology leapfrog in developing countries. In its original draft, the Bank had censured the idea of technology leapfrog and declared it as inordinately expensive and an inappropriate model for such countries. It said pushing tighter fuel and vehicle standards without petroleum sector reforms could be inefficient and expensive.

Transit conundrum

We never expected public transport to catch the political imagination in the car maniacal city of Delhi. So we were pleasantly surprised by the recent budget of the Delhi government. The transport sector has hogged the biggest pie of the total budgetary allocation – nearly one-fourth of the total plan outlay. Apparently this is spurred by its commitment to complete all public transport projects in the pipeline – high capacity bus system, and electric trolley bus system within three years.

Fueling Economy

The oil price surge has left the market watchers and media agog. Expert views sparred on price insulation, energy security and our vulnerability. It was fascinating to follow the desperate bid to brag that the global crude price hike will not hurt Indian incomes as much as they did the last time. Oil dependence of Indian income is on the downturn as we are earning more from non-oil based IT sectors. Reportedly, India’s oil consumption to GDP ratio has fallen by 56 per cent since the nineties.

Follow us on 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
gobar times