Environment & Biodiversity

Causes of and solutions to the Delhi Air Pollution

Here is a look at the history of the issue and what actions the elected governments of Delhi and the Centre have implemented throughout time to reduce air pollution as it has become a yearly occurrence in New Delhi and the NCR.

Causes of Poor Air Quality

  1. One of the factors contributing to poor air quality are motor vehicle emissions.
  2. The coal-fired power station Badarpur Thermal Power Station was another significant contributor to Delhi’s air pollution.
  3. Wet cooling towers are used extensively in industry and other industries to dissipate heat in cooling systems, and as a result, their drift/mist emissions are also a source of particulate matter.
  4. Despite the fact that Delhi is kerosene-free and 90% of households use LPG, the other 10% cook with wood, crop waste, cow dung, and coal. (Indian Census, 2011)
  5. In Delhi, airborne particulates are primarily caused by fires in the Bhalswa dump.
  6. Left-wing activists frequently blame Delhi’s bad air quality on the burning of effigies during Vijayadashami and the setting off of firecrackers during Diwali.
  7. Since the 1980s, when crops are being harvested, agricultural stubble burning in Haryana and Punjab, together with north-westerly winds, also has an impact on Delhi’s air quality.

Revised Air Quality standards

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPB) set the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) (CPCB).
  • It assessed pollutants like Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and PM10 (particulate matter with a diameter greater than 10 microns).
  • Twelve categories of pollutants, including PM2.5 (particulate matter with a diameter under 2.5 microns), were added to the NAAQS in a 2009 revision.
  • The main source of particle matter (PM) emissions is the combustion of fuels used in the transportation, energy, residential, commercial, and agricultural sectors.

Finally arriving @ Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)

  • The permissible yearly limit for PM2.5 is 40 ug/m3, and for PM10 it is 60 ug/m3, according to the amended NAAQS.
  • In the winter of 2016, Delhi had one of the worst cases of smog brought on by pollution, with PM2.5 and PM10 levels in some areas of Delhi reaching a staggering 999 ug/m3 on November 1.
  • The Supreme Court subsequently instructed Delhi and NCR authorities to create a plan to address the air pollution in November 2016.
  • The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) was released by the MoEFCC at the beginning of 2017.
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