NEW DELHI: Delhi could reduce its PM 2.5 concentrations by nearly 35% by 2030 as compared to the 2019 emissions if efforts are made to manage pollution in the entire national capital region, a report released by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) on Thursday, December 9, 2021, showed. PM 2.5 is Delhi’s most prominent pollutant, which is generated from fumes, soot, etc. It enters lungs and bloodstream and adversely affects those with respiratory issues. Healthy people, too, may face problems due to prolonged exposure.
The report, ‘Cost-effectiveness of interventions for control of air pollution in Delhi’ put forward various
future pollution scenarios in Delhi. It has made three future projections — for 2022 in the short term, 2025 in the medium term, and 2030 in the long term. “In the business as usual scenario, PM 2.5 concentrations in winter are expected to fall by 9%, 21%, and 28% in 2022, 2025, and 2030 respectively, when compared to 2019, the base year of the study. Though the PM 2.5 concentrations may fall marginally over the years, the levels will continue to remain significantly above the national standards of 60ug/m3,” the report said.
Researchers stressed on the need for stringent controls to curb emissions in the NCR and the rest of the airshed — a geographical area within which air is confined — if winter pollution levels are to be brought down considerably. Airshed-level controls can reduce winter PM 2.5 concentrations by 35% by 2030 compared to the business as usual scenario. Vibha Dhawan, director-general, TERI, said, “Air pollution should be focused as a problem throughout the year and not only during the winter season. Instead of completely banning essential activities, it is important to switch to cleaner options.”
Meanwhile, Jasmine Shah, vice chairperson, Dialogue and Development Commission (DDC) of the Aam Aadmi Party, who delivered the inaugural address during the report launch, said that lack of good data on air pollution and absence of communication about the data that already exists are the two key challenges in Delhi’s fight against pollution.
Shah further said air pollution in Delhi is a regional airshed problem. TERI’s 2018 report had highlighted how the majority of Delhi’s air pollution comes from regional sources and not local sources. Also, the recent analysis by the Ministry of Earth Sciences agency for the month of November showed that around 70% sources responsible for air pollution in Delhi are located outside Delhi. “There needs to be more continuous communication about air quality-related data to the public,” he said.
What else the study says...
Interventions such as electrification of vehicles, implementation of environmental standards of thermal power plants and shift to public transport can help meet annual average standards for PM 2.5.