What is Being Done in Delhi?

Efforts to mitigate air pollution in Delhi began years ago. The issue now appears to be that gains from early efforts have been lost. An additional wave of policies is currently on the table.  The key to success of these policies will be in their implementation and enforcement.  There are early indications that Prime Minister Modi’s government may make environmental issues, including air pollution, higher priority.

As part of the national ambient air quality program Delhi has a network of 11 automatic air quality monitors that produce real-time data by the hour on official websites.

Actions taken in Delhi to curb air pollution (between 1998-2008)

  • Euro II emissions standards set in 2000 and Euro III standards in 2005
  • Introduction of unleaded petrol; mandated pre-mix petrol to two- and three-wheelers
  • Implemented CNG (compressed natural gas) program for buses, three-wheelers and fleet taxis
  • Phased out 15 year-old commercial vehicles
  • Strengthened the vehicle inspection program (PUC)
  • Efforts were made to bypass transit traffic
  • Relocated polluting industry
  • Stricter action on power plants; two power plants on natural gas
  • Ban on open burning passed

More recent actions taken (2008-2014)

  • Extension of metro system
  • Increasing bus numbers close to 6000
  • Introduction of Euro IV standards in 2010; upgrade of PUC tests.
  • Creation of Air Ambience Fund in 2009
  • Implementation of 40 km of cycle tracks with new footpaths during the Commonwealth games and marginal increase in parking prices in NDMC area

Source: Centre for Science and Environment

What next?

On February 10, 2014 the Supreme Court admitted into evidence the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the National Capital region (EPCA) report on priority measures to control air pollution and issued notices to the Union (Federal) Government of India and the state governments of Delhi, Haryana,  Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to follow up on the following recommendations of the Report:

  • Create a long–term favorable taxation policy to promote the CNG Program
  • Introduce Bharat Stage IV emissions standards nationwide by 2015. With the aim to move quickly to Euro V and Euro VI by 2021
  • Impose an additional 30% environment compensation charge on private diesel cars
  • Bring all 10,000 -11,000 buses into operation within a year or face contempt. (Currently the city has less than 6,500 in service)
  • Relevant government bodies to submit a time-bound plan on implementation of a network of dedicated pedestrian and cycling lanes with a high degree of safety for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Time-bound action plan for augmentation of public transport services and necessary action to remove entry taxes on public transport buses across borders in the NCR under reciprocal agreement
  • Reverse the practice of imposing higher taxes on public transport buses in NCR
  • Increase parking charges effectively; demarcate legal parking areas and impose higher penalty for illegal parking
  • Harmonize vehicle related taxes and improved vehicle testing for in-use emissions and roadworthiness in the NCR
  • Implement daily air quality index and health advisory for public information immediately

For more information on these policy recommendations, see the 2014 Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the National Capital Region  (report for the Supreme Court)

To learn about the National Ambient Air Monitoring Program (NAMP) and to see trend data of different Indian cities access the most recent Annual Report of the Central Pollution Control Board, the Ministry of Environment and Forest 2011-2012 (begin p. 68)

Interested in air pollution policies in other Indian cities? The Center for Science and Environment(CSE) has a “City Action” page that follows policy action in multiple Indian cities.