Essay On Pollution In Delhi

DELHI AIR Pollution
Nov 14, 2016

Delhi is among the world’s most polluted cities. In 2014, it was ranked the most polluted globally in terms of PM 2.5, by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This year in 2016, Delhiites has witnessed worst form of pollution at the onset of winters.

Sources of Pollution:

Air pollution in Delhi’s National Capital Region (NCR) is comprised of a complex mix of pollution from human activities (vehicle emissions, industry, construction and residential fuel burning) as well as natural sources like dust and sea salt. The heavy concentration of particulate matter is greatly affected by meteorological conditions –in the winter, cool air causes “inversions” that stagnant the air and trap pollution close to the ground.

Anthropogenic :

  • Vehicles: These are the second largest source of particulate matter, particularly PM2.5. According to the report, vehicular pollution grew from 64 per cent to 72 per cent between 1990 and 2000. In winter, on average vehicles can contribute 25 per cent to PM2.5 and at certain locations this could be above 35 per cent. There is a significant contribution of diesel vehicles to PM10 and 
  • Road dust: The silt load on some of Delhi’s roads is very high and silt can become airborne with the movement of vehicles. The estimated PM10 emission from road dust is over 65 tonnes per day. Soil from open fields too gets airborne in summer. In some parts of the city, roads are broken, poorly maintained and partially paved surfaces and the study found that movement of vehicles may cause non-exhaust road dust emission in significant amounts. PM10 and PM2.5 emission from road dust is 79,626 kg/day and 22,165 kg/day respectively.
  • Concrete batching: During the study period massive construction activities were found that required concrete batching, including at 60 DMRC locations where construction was under progress. It was assumed that there will be 40 concrete batching plants of 120 cu.m/hr capacities operating for 16 hours. Several medium and small construction activities were also observed in the city. PM10 and PM2.5 emissions from concrete mix plants is estimated at 14.37 tonnes/day and 3.5 tonnes/day respectively. A few hundred plants in NCR may contribute to this.
  • Hotels and Restaurents: The average consumption of coal in tandoors based on the survey was 30 kg/day. The number of hotels and restaurants was 36,099 (Delhi Statistical Handbook, 2014). The study assumes 25% of these enterprises use tandoors for food preparation.
  • Municipal solid waste burning: The contribution of burning MSW may surprise many. A study in 2015 in Delhi has estimated 190 to 246 tonnes/day of MSW burning.
  • Stubble Burning in neighboring states: NASA image suggests that burning of crop stubble is considerably impacting the pollution levels. Farmers in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana have been setting fire to paddy stubble in their fields after cultivating the crop as part of the slash and burn. As per an NYT report, farmers are burning around 32 million tons of leftover straw.

Meteorological: During the winter months, cool air stagnates over the city, keeping pollution close to the ground where people breathe. Delhi’s persistent winter fog only worsens the problem. Stagnant air explains why pollution levels vary less widely over the day in winter than in spring, as is evident in the chart above. In spring, warm, rising air moves pollution out, so the average pollution at ground level follows more closely the profile of polluting activities throughout the day. During the afternoon when people are at work, it drops, only to rise again with the evening rush hour. It stays relatively high overnight, likely due to the practice of trucking goods, not only in and out but through Delhi.

Health Effect:

  • every third child in delhihas reduced lung function
  • Sputum of Delhi’s children contains four times more iron-laden macrophages than those from cleaner environs, indicating pulmonary hemorrhage.
  • Global scientific studies have associated air pollution with a wide range of health effects including respiratory and cardiac problems, stroke, cancer, hyper tension and diabetes, affect on brain and foetus.

Steps that could be taken are

A IIT Kanpur has gave following measures to be adopted

Road dust

  • Mechanical sweeping with water wash: If main roads are swept twice a month, road dust emission will be reduced by 23 per cent; if four times a month, it will be down by 52 per cent  Effect: 71 µg/cu.m reduction in PM10 likely.
  • Vacuum-assisted sweeping: The report recommends sweeping four times a month.  Effect: 93 µg/cu.m reduction likely in PM10 as a result of a 71% reduction in road dust emissionVehicles

Diesel particulate filter: PM emission reduction efficiency of 60-90 per cent.

Effect: 10 µg/cu.m improvement in PM concentration.

Electric/hybrid vehicles: If introduced, then by January 2017, study assumes, 2% two-wheelers, 10% three-wheelers and 2% four-wheelers will be electric/hybrid.

Effect: 4.5% reduction in PM emission, 1-2 µg/cu.m net improvement in air quality.

Sulphur: Bring down sulphur content to 10 parts per million (ppm) by end-2017.

Effect: 6% drop in PM10 and PM2.5 emission from vehicles.51% overall reduction in vehicular emission if all recommendations implemented.


Industries be made to use light diesel oil and high speed diesel with sulphur content 500 ppm or less in boilers or furnaces. Allow no new polluting industry, it adds.

Effect: 15 to 30% control in PM from this source, negligible sulphur-dioxide.

Diesel generators: Recommendation: Reduced sulphur content to 500 ppm.

Effect: 15 to 30% reduction in PM emission from this source from present 1400 kg/d.

Cooking fuel

Recommendation: Ban coal for cooking, shift to electric or gas-based devices, stop burning municipal solid waste. Every day, these sources contribute an estimated 12.8 tonnes/day of PM 10

Effect: 57% reduction in PM 10 from these sources.

Concrete batching

Recommendation: Spray water at construction sites, use wind breakers, bag filters at silos, cover sites.

Effect: 49% reduction in PM10 and PM2.5.

NCR is a contiguous area with similarities in emitting sources, for this it is necessary that the control options are implemented for the entire NCR. With the implementation of control options in Delhi as well as NCR, the overall air quality in Delhi will improve significantly and expected mean PM10 levels will be 120 µg/cu.m and PM2.5 will be 72 µg/cu.m. In addition to the above control options, some local efforts will be required to ensure that city of Delhi and NCR attain the air quality standards all through the year and possibly for many years to come,

Pollution in Delhi: How Can It Be Controlled?

November 25, 2014

by Rumani Saikia Phukan

A perennial problem in India is pollution. According to the global Environment Performance Index (EPI) 2014, India has reached a rank of 155, slipped 32 ranks from the previous year, and it is disheartening to hear that Delhi, the national capital of the country, is being tagged as one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world. It is the world’s worst city for air pollution. Thus, today, one of the biggest threats to the welfare of the people of Delhi and the city as a whole is pollution of various types.

Classification of pollution in Delhi

  • Air pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Water pollution
  • Domestic waste
  • Industrial waste
  • Vehicular pollution
  • Hospital waste
  • Solid waste etc.

Causes of pollution in Delhi

  • Growing population of the city. The pressure and haphazard growth of the population is deteriorating the environment.
  • There has been highly haphazard and unplanned development of industries and factories. Studies have revealed that only about 20% of the industrial units are set up in the approved industrial areas whereas the rest of them are in residential and commercial areas.
  • There has been a huge rise in the vehicular population, in spite of the metro railways, aggravating traffic congestion and increasing air and noise pollution. It has also been reported that the number of vehicles plying on the roads of Delhi is more than that of the three metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai taken together.
  • There has also been an ever-increasing number of diesel vehicles plying on the roads, which are largely responsible for the air pollution.
  • It has been reported by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) that everyday almost 8,000 m tonnes of solid waste is being generated in Delhi. Plus we also have the industrial hazardous and non-hazardous waste. On an average, everyday, the MCDs and the NDMC manage to clear about 5,000-5,500 m tonnes of garbage. This results in the accumulation of more and more garbage in the city.
  • There has been no proper technology or methods to treat solid, liquid, waste water, industrial and hospital wastes in the city.
  • There has been too much dependence on fossil fuels like coal-fired power plants, improper use of energy in buildings and the excessive use of biomass for cooking and heating, etc

Particulate matter for measuring pollution

One way of measuring pollution is by the measure of particulate matter. Particulate matter is basically a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets like acids, chemicals, gas, water, metals, soil dust particles, etc., the measurement of which gives an idea of the pollution of a city. It is also known as particle pollution or PM.

Pollution in Delhi: Facts and figures

  • According to the Ambient Air Pollution (AAP) report for the year 2014, Delhi had PM 2.5 pollution levels, which is the highest in the world, followed by Beijing. This result was based on the monitoring of PM measurement of outdoor air pollution from almost 1,600 cities in 91 countries.
  • The highest concentration of PM 2.5 form of air pollution is supposed to be a very serious matter and can lead to respiratory diseases and other health problems like lung cancer.
  • According to the WHO, air pollution is the fifth largest killer in India.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO), a dangerous gas emission, is around 6,000 microgram per cubic metre in Delhi, which is much above the the safe level of 2,000 microgram per cubic metre.
  • The level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has also been increasing.
  • According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) is 121, which is described as “poor.” The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality, about how clean or polluted the air is.

Government’s steps to control pollution in Delhi

  • There are mobile enforcement teams deployed at various locations for monitoring polluting vehicles and vehicles not having PUC certificates.
  • A Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) is being constructed with the aim of providing a non-polluting, useful and affordable rail-based mass rapid transit system for Delhi, integrated with other modes of transport.
  • With a view to reducing vehicular pollution, there has been a ban imposed on the plying of more than 15 years old commercial/transport vehicles, taxis and autos that run on conventional fuels, including diesel driven city buses.
  • There has also been tightening of mass emission standards for new vehicles.
  • The quality of the fuel being supplied in Delhi has been significantly improved over the years by the ban of selling leaded petrol, introduction of low sulphur diesel, reduction of sulphur and benzene content in petrol.
  • There has been regular placement of dustbins, purchase of additional front-end loaders, mechanical sweepers, dumper placers, tipper trucks, to collect and dispose of garbage.
  • Steps are taken to transform garbage into compost by developing new sanitary land-fill sites.
  • The Delhi Government has constituted a committee to implement the Bio-Medical Waste (management and handling) Rules, 1998.
  • The Delhi Degradable Plastic Bag (Manufacture, Sale and Usage) and Garbage (Control) Act 2000 has been enacted for banning the manufacture and use of plastic bags, etc.

It’s not that the Government is not taking steps to control pollution in Delhi. But we need proper and efficient implementation of plans and programmes and policies launched by the Government.

How can citizens of Delhi help in reducing pollution?

Pollution in Delhi is a perpetual problem which need to be looked upon as a serious issue not only by the Government but also by the citizens of the city.

  • One of the easiest ways is that there should be an efficient involvement of Resident Welfare Associations in various localities in collection, segregation of garbage from houses and the societies.
  • Citizens can take steps to covert the garbage into compost in their localities.
  • More and more trees must be planted in every locality.
  • Every individual should keep a proper check on the pollution level of their vehicles.
  • Making more use of CNG.
  • One of the best ways to control pollution is to manage wastes of all types in a proper manner.
  • Each and every citizen should abide by the 3Rs: Recycle, Reuse, Reduce.
  • More and more people should use bus and metro instead of cars and scooters, as they can carry a lot more people in one journey. Car pool is also a good option.
  • Controlling the use of energy and making use of electricity in an efficient manner.
  • One can also reduce water pollution by reducing the use of chemicals, cleaning agents, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers etc.

It is the duty of every citizen to think in a broader perspective to control pollution. We really don’t want our future generations to live in an unhealthy environment in Delhi. We really don’t want our children or our elders to get into incessant coughing due to pollution. Like we say charity begins at home, I take a pledge to do what I can for my environment and protect it to the best I can. If each one of us takes a pledge to do our bit for our environment, I am sure Delhi will be a better place to live in. Even a small step counts…

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