October 29, 2018
The capital city is among the most populated cities in the world. Rapid and unplanned urban development along with unprecedented population growth has lead to a relentless increase in air pollution in this megacity. An emissions inventory by the Pune-based System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting Research (SAFAR) under the ministry of earth sciences (MoES) has found that vehicles and industries are the biggest contributors to particulate matter (PM) 2.5 emissions in Delhi-NCR. A similar emission inventory was conducted by SAFAR for Delhi-NCR in 2010, too, and a comparison with that shows emissions from the residential sector has fallen by 64% due to LPG access even in slums. Emissions from transport and industrial sectors have gone up by 40% and 48%, respectively. Surprisingly, windblown dust, which is often blamed for pollution in Delhi, also reduced by 26% between 2010 and 2018.
Nature International – Rising Vehicular Emission
Though many state and central government have been encouraging people to use public transport, however, a lack of adequate public transportation system within and outside of Delhi have failed to back this appeal. Only Delhi has over 10 million vehicles and the number is going up every year. Of the total vehicular pollution, 40 percent to 45 percent comes from two-wheelers and another 30 percent to-35 per cent from four-wheelers. Delhi Metro to a certain extent has been able to motivate people to shift to public transport. The Centre for Development Economics at Delhi School of Economics, in its research, has said that Delhi Metro has resulted in reduced levels of two important vehicular pollutants – nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO). The Delhi Metro is expanding its network further and the work on Delhi Metro phase 4 is also expected to begin by mid-2019. However, Delhi Metro only provides intra-city transport solutions. Therefore, inter-city vehicular pollution remains the same.
Recently Union Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri said projects like Delhi Metro’s Phase 4 and Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) are the game changer in addressing congestion and pollution in Delhi NCR.
Echoing similar views Sharad Goel a social activist and environmentalist said, “Reducing pollution in Delhi and other NCR cities is a herculean task that no one can do single-handedly. Short term efforts have been put in here and there but long term solution is the need of the hour. It requires an all-out effort from the public, government and civic agencies. Improvement in the public transportation and adopting eco friendly mode of transportation holds the key. An eco-friendly public transportation system is the need of the hour to give a breather to the lungs of Delhi NCR. One of the viable high speed transport system which will result in this kind of modal shift is Regional Rapid Transit System."
Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) is a rail-based high-speed transit system with a design speed of 180 kmph and an average speed of 100 kmph. Once operational, it will be the fastest, most comfortable and safest mode of commuter transport in NCR.
Delhi – Ghaziabad – Meerut corridor will be the first RRTS to be implemented in India out of the first three corridors planned in phase 1. The Delhi – Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor is expected to lift public transport share from the current 37% to around 63%. As per estimates, the system will significantly reduce pollutants namely PM 2.5 particle by 60,000 tonnes, Nitrogen oxide by 4,75,000 tonnes, Hydrocabons by 8,00,000 tonnes and carbon monoxide by 8,00,000 tonnes yearly.