Delhi has its charm. It is a city full of life, an eclectic mix of the old and new. But it’s also one of the most polluted cities in the country.
In November of 2017, Delhi’s air quality was labelled the worst in the world. At times, breathing the air in the city was compared to smoking 50 cigarettes a day. Hospitals reported a 20% rise in the number of patients with pollution related illnesses. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal compared the city to a gas chamber.
This wasn’t anything new. It was the third time in a row that the city had the distinction of being labelled the most polluted city in the world. And therein lies the cause for concern. Despite the Supreme Court’s order banning firecrackers in NCR region, the air quality in the region has not improved as significantly as it should have.
In a recent study by WHO, Delhi was ranked the sixth most polluted city in the world (in fact, 14 of the 15 most polluted cities in the report are from India).
According to a study by IIT Kanpur, vehicular pollution accounts for about 10 per cent of the PM10 pollution load and about 20 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution load in Delhi. Much of that emanates from ageing and end-of-life vehicles
Where does the problem lie?
In 2015, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed a ban on 10-year-old vehicles in the Delhi-NCR region to tackle this problem. The NGT had said that emissions from diesel vehicles are carcinogenic and one diesel vehicle causes air pollution equivalent to 24 petrol vehicles or 40 CNG vehicles.
The NGT had also imposed a ban on all vehicles above 15 years old to ply on Delhi’s road. In February this year, the Delhi Government took a move towards becoming the first city with an end-of-life-vehicle policy by drafting rules to impound and scrap vehicles older than 15 years.
The disposal dilemma
While scrapping end-of-life vehicles is welcome, how will these vehicles be disposed of? Most of the vehicles are currently scrapped through unorganized markets like Mayapuri in Delhi and Kurla in Mumbai. And these vehicles are scrapped in a way that damages the environment (read our post on where old vehicles go to die for more information).
Cero, a collaboration between Mahindra Accelo and MSTC (a government of India enterprise), has set up a plant to recycle usable parts of ELVs and dispose of the hazardous waste in an environment-friendly way. (Read our blog post on how to dispose junk vehicles for more information)
Smog over the capital: Why vehicular pollution in Delhi is a matter of concern