Delhi pollution is alarmingly rising above the levels of Beijing and to fight it on a war-footing, the Delhi government has decided to go for mechanical cleaning of roads first and then plant grass on either side of the road.
Dust, accounting for 38% of air pollution, is a major concern in the national capital and during winters it reaches the worst levels triggering a ban on all diesel vehicles which are 10 years old or aboveby the National Green Tribunal recently. It has also asked the authorities to control completely the dust coming from construction sites in the city.
Nearly 78% of the air pollution is caused by vehicles, out of which 38% is by dust and mechanical cleaning can reduce it to 27%, said the officials.
Prompted by the ban and uproar over the rising level of air pollution, the Delhi government’s PWD is targeting cleaning roads first. “We have prepared a plan to decrease air pollution, according to which we will make all 1,200 km roads of Public Works Department dust-free by mechanical cleaning. In the next three months, mechanical cleaning of PWD’s roads will begin,” said PWD minister Satyender Jain.
In another move, planting grass on either side of the roads is under consideration. Since dust remains suspended in the air for a longer time during the day owing to continuous movement of vehicles, “a permanent solution would be to plant grass along roads,” said the minister. He also said the repairing all broken footpaths would taken up soon.
In a recent research, jointly conducted by the University of Birmingham (Britain), the Indian Institute of Technology – Delhi, the Central Road Research Institute (India), and the Desert Research Institute (US), it was revealed that the particles are associated with respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, which cause inflammation and lead to cardiovascular diseases.
The researchers collected air samples between December 2013 and January 2014, adjacent to a heavy traffic site on Mathura Road, nearer to industrial belt with high emissions.
“It was found that for average 12 hours…PM 2.5, fine particles, which is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, concentrations in winter were significantly higher than the 24-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard in India,” said the report.
“Harmful components including lead, zinc and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were found to be present in very high concentrations during winter season, said the report.
The quantitative analysis showed that sources of particulate matter include soil, dust and emissions from vehicles, wood, coal and waste burning.
“Dust and soil level in the air increase in summer when temperatures are high with less rainfall. However, in winter season, when people use wood and other substances for heating, low temperature accompanied with little or no wind can lead to building-up of pollutants in the atmosphere,” said the report.
In another revelation, global climate awareness agency Greenpeace, citing the Central Pollution Control Board of India said Delhi’s average pollution at PM2.5 level in 2013 as 153μg/m3, based on hourly measurements at 6 different stations was alarmingly very high.
“This is 15 times the World Health Organization guideline and 3.8 times the national standard,” it said. Delhi’s average is also 80 percent higher than the average in Beijing.
However, Delhi lags behind Beijing in terms of monitoring stations. While Beijing has continuously monitoring stations for all days in a year, Delhi monitoring stations run by Delhi Pollution control Committee (DPCC) had no data for 56 days in the year 2014, it pointed out.
Based on the available data for PM2.5 from three locations: R.K.Puram, Mandir Marg and Punjabi Bagh,, Greenpeace has made the health risk estimations for each of these areas in Delhi and have made comparisons with the average pollution levels for Beijing.
These estimates, based on the methodology of the Global Burden of Disease Study, 2010, show an increased risk in lung cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and Ischaemic heart disease in these areas, several times higher than that of Beijing, it said.
The Greenpeace study, published in the Atmospheric Pollution Research Journal, on air pollution and atmospheric processes, said Delhi faces the highest health risks from air pollution.
Table showing the increased health risks in the NCR Area between 2000-2010:
|Hospital Admission due to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease||16,253||26,525|