Vehicular Pollution in India!
Vehicular pollution has grown at an alarming rate due to growing urbanisation in India. The air pollution from vehicles in urban areas, particularly in big cities, has become a serious problem. The pollution from vehicles has begun to tell through symptoms like cough, headache, nausea, irritation of eyes, various bronchial and visibility problems.
The main pollutants emitted from the automobiles are hydrocarbons, lead/benzene, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. The main cause of vehicular pollution is the rapidly growing number of vehicles.
The other factors of vehicular pollution in the urban areas are 2-stroke engines, poor fuel quality, old vehicles, inadequate maintenance, congested traffic, poor road condition and old automotive technologies and traffic management system.
In India, the number of vehicles increased from 0.3 million in 1951 to 58.3 million in 2001-02. About half the vehicles are concentrated in 39 metropolitan cities (cities with population of over one million). The two wheelers are the major contributors of vehicular air pollution followed by four-wheeler (e.g., car, jeep, taxi etc.), trucks and buses in decreasing order of magnitude.
Delhi is a typical example of air pollution by vehicles. Table 9.6 shows that Delhi’s vehicular population increased from an insignificant of 2.17 lakh in 1971 to 44 lakh in 2004. Over 2.5 lakh vehicles were registered in Delhi in 2004—more than twice the number registered in 2003. Of the total vehicular population in Delhi in 2004, 13.37 lakh were four wheelers, 27.8 lakh two wheelers, more than 80 thousand autorickshaws, 18.4 thousand taxies, 26.9 thousand buses and 1.55 lakh goods vehicles. This figure is likely to rise to 60 lakh in 2011.
Delhi has more vehicles than Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai put together. Unfortunately, number of vehicles in Delhi outpaces the road length. Delhi’s total road length was 8,380 km in 1971 which increased to 25,948 km in 2004. Thus whereas the road length increase only by three times, the number of vehicles increased by over twenty times.
Road length per vehicle had gone down from 0.69 km in 1988 to 0.23 km in 2004. This leads to congestion of roads and mismanagement of traffic. Consequently, the average travel time increases by at least 12-15 minutes for a journey of about 15 km.
Table 9.6 Number of Vehicles and Road Length in Delhi:
|Year||Vehicles(Lakhs)||Road length (Kilometres)|
TABLE 9.7 Sources of Air Pollution in Delhi (in percentages):
|Year||Vehicles||Industry (including thermal power plants)||Domestic|
Share of vehicular pollution in Delhi has increased from 23% in 1970-71 to 72% in 2000-01. In contrast share of industrial pollution decreased from 56% in 1970-71 to 20% in 2000-01 (see Table 9.7). Figure 9.5 highlights the increasing share of vehicular pollution in Delhi. Pollution by both industrial and domestic sources is decreasing.
Map in Figure 9.6 shows the number of vehicles and air pollution caused by them in 12 major cities of India.
Much of the vehicular air pollution can be avoided by maintaining proper speed of the vehicles. Vehicles standing on the road crossing or in traffic jams cause more pollution. The quantity of harmful emissions decreases with increasing speed (See Table 9.8).
Table 9.8 Emission from Vehicles at varied Speeds (gm/km):
Delhi is a major point of intersection in north India, for both passenger and freight traffic. Delhi is connected to five national highways directly (NH 1—GT Kamal road, NH 2—Mathura road, NH 8 — Gurgaon road, NH 10—Rohtak road, NH—24 Hapur road) and indirectly to two (NH 24 carries load of NH 58 and NH 91).
Moreover, the city has 86 entry points out of which 17 are key points for commercial traffic. In order to divert the interstate traffic the ‘Peripheral Expressway’ has been proposed for the city. In fact two expressways are proposed to be constructed. The Eastern Expressway has two corridors—the Faridabad-NOIDA. Ghaziabad route (56 km) and the Ghaziabad-Kundli route (49 km).
The western Expressway (88 km) will connect Faridabad with Kundli. A survey conducted at the Inter State Bus Terminal of Delhi has revealed that 65 per cent buses from Uttar Pradesh, 50 per cent from Haryana and 25 per cent from Punjab emit more pollutants than the permitted limit.
A World Bank study in Delhi (1998) showed that diesel vehicles were responsible for as much as 62.5 per cent of the total particulate load coming from all vehicles. Even after the implementation of the CNG programme, a recent World Bank study of 2004 confirms, based on actual measurements and characterisation of PM2.5 (a tiny fraction of the particulate), that diesel fuel’s contribution could still rise as high as 23 per cent.
Besides air traffic also adds to the air pollution. More than 750 tonnes of pollutants are released by air traffic every day. With the increase in Air Traffic this pollution is bound to increase in future. Even smog (mixture of smoke and fog) is becoming a real threat to Delhi’s air environment.
According to a report of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), air pollution claims one life in Delhi per hour. Another study from the Kolkata-based Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute stated that 64 per cent of Delhi’s children suffer from lung function impairment and 71.4 per cent individuals display respiratory disorders.
In Mumbai about 52 per cent of the total pollution load is contributed by vehicles. Vehicles contribute about 54 per cent of SPM and 52 per cent of nitrogen dioxide in Mumbai. About 30 per cent of the total pollution load in Kolkata comes from vehicles.
Among the metropolitan cities of India. Chennai seems to have clearer air. However, experts warn that SPM in many locations in Chennai is the cause of concern. Accordingly to latest studies, high SPM levels in some of the residential and other non-industrial localities is largely due to emissions by vehicles.
Studies in Hyderabad show that between 1993-1996, the pollution level in the city had gone up by 170 tonnes, largely because of growth of vehicles. According to Andhra Pradesh State Pollution Control Board vehicles contribute more than 600 tonnes of pollutants every day. About 68% of the pollutants are emitted by two- wheelers. The sad story of air pollution by vehicles is almost the same in most of the big cities of India.
Even in small towns such as Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh, Agartala in Tripura, Dehra Dun in Uttaranchal, Alwar in Rajasthan and Pondicherry air is polluted mainly by vehicles and partly by industries and mining. Experts say that traditional non-motorized transport is fast giving way to polluting two and three wheelers.
Jammu had only 24,000 vehicles just a decade ago. Today Jammu has 1.5 lakh vehicles out of which 80 per cent are two wheelers. In Guwahati and Jorhat there is unprecedented increase in air pollution due to rapid increase in the number of vehicles.
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