CSE : Air quality ‘worse’, justifies odd-even scheme

Friday, Jan 1, 2016,15:42 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | Air quality in the last two months of 2015 was worse and this justifies emergency actions like the odd and even system that Delhi should pilot successfully to reduce toxic exposure, a green body today said. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) released the results of its analysis of the official air quality data from continuous monitoring by Delhi Pollution Control Committee to show how this winter pollution levels have worsened compared to last year.

Both November and December 2015 show higher number of days in ‘severe’ category, the worst category according to the National Air Quality Index. November had 73 per cent of days in severe category against 53 per cent in November 2014. December 2014 had at least 3 per cent of days in ‘good’ and ‘satisfactory’ category but December 2015 has none.

There has not been a single ‘good’ air quality day this winter, the CSE analysis said. It said that this justifies emergency action like the odd and even system that Delhi should pilot successfully to reduce toxic exposure during smog episodes. If globally smog episode is defined as three consecutive days in the worst category of the air quality index, then the 2015 winter has already witnessed 11 such smog episodes.

Such levels have lasted for 10 consecutive days as well, it said. CSE said in its analysis that if with public support half of the cars are off the road, the total toxic load of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides can also be halved from the car segment. Total toxins, including benzene, PAH and other cancer causing substances can also be cut. More reduction is possible from diesel cars and SUVs, it said.

CSE has urged that the odd and even number system be enforced with stringency to help develop alternative commuting practices and systems that can be sustained on a longer-term basis. Given the level of choking pollution in the city and its health impact, people need to support to reduce their pollution foot print.

Despite the exemptions granted to two-wheelers and women, voluntary participation is critical to reduce public health risk in the city. Delhi government should take this opportunity to improve the public transport services. Reduced congestion will be an opportunity to make the public transport perform more efficiently, it said.