Kolkata's new status as India's most polluted city is heavily influenced by its dependence on diesel

AIR POLLUTION: Kolkata ‘new air pollution capital’, Centre caught shopping air purifiers, Pet coke ban in a month, India standards ineffective, ‘too low’

Kolkata ‘new air pollution capital’

New analyses of official air quality data of metros for January and February has revealed Kolkata’s average AQI at 295 parts per million, higher than Delhi at 287 ppm. Air pollution in Kolkata was “more than double” of Delhi on some days. During the period Mumbai AQI was at 155, Chennai (127), Bangalore (88) and Hyderabad (130). Study says, diesel vehicles are the main polluters in Kolkata, of two million vehicles, 50% run on diesel. Above all, over 95% of the city’s commercial vehicles run on diesel.

Draft NCAP released but lacks specific pollution reduction targets

The draft of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) that was released on Tuesday (April 17th) by the MoEFCC – although it aims to reduce air pollution across India through multiple strategies – was released without the specific air pollution reduction targets of 35% in three years and 50% in five years (from the date of implementation) that had been internally deliberated upon by the ministry.

The draft therefore contradicts environment minister Harsh Vardhan’s previous statement that the ministry would endeavor to slash air pollution in 100 non-attainment cities by 50% within 5 years. However, it does specify a plan to install a comprehensive ambient air quality monitoring network across India for reliable data collection, and it is open to consultation and public comments until May 17th, during which the specific targets may be reinstated.

Erring industries ‘will be shut down’

Pollution watchdog CPCB has warned the states it will shut industries that fall under the 17 highly polluting categories if they flout emission norms. Industries are not providing pollution monitoring infrastructure to check stacks attached to boilers. Installation of on-line continuous (24×7) monitoring devices has been made mandatory. Govt. has notified 118 emission/effluent standards for 122 different sectors of industries, besides 32 general standards for ambient air.

Diesel generators still on, despite green court ban

The top court was informed that Delhi has surplus power, but the city lacks proper distribution. Small businesses are still using polluting diesel generators, long banned by green court.

‘Not the right approach’: Centre caught shopping air purifiers

Citing RTI data, Reuters reported PM office (PMO) and at least 6 other government agencies bought 140 air purifiers between 2014 and 2017, as Delhi choked with air pollution. The PMO, state think tank NITI Aayog, and the ministries of health, agriculture, tourism, home affairs and foreign affairs spent about $55,000 on air purifiers. Experts say air purifier approach is like “giving gumboots to city officials” when drains are blocked and the city is “covered in muck”. Air purifiers merely cleans air indoors, and are expensive.

‘Delhi needs bike sharing master plan’

WRI experts have said Delhi needs a master plan on public cycle-sharing which could be integrated with its public transport; heat, air pollution are just excuses and sign of lack of political will.

Bar too low: Air Quality standards ‘not effective’

Experts say, India must first set effective AQ standards to address air pollution. They point out that in the US even minimal PM2.5 exposure is regarded as harmful. India’s annual PM2.5 standard is the very high 40 mcg/m3, far more than WHO (10 mcg/m3) and the U.S. (15 mcg/m3, with research calls to decrease it further) standards. With such dismal targets Indians will continue to suffer killer air, “with no public or private accountability”.

Delhi air quality: UP, Rajasthan buses flouting norms

Over 7,000 buses, mainly from Uttar Pradesh (UP), were booked for flouting pollution norms in Delhi in the last six years. Around half of them (3,328) fined for not having pollution check certificates were from UP, 2,064 were from Rajasthan. 643 buses were from Delhi.

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