On track for improvement? Delhi remains world’s fifth most polluted city, as India prepared to transit to world’s cleanest Euro VI, also termed as Bharat Standard VI compliant fuel on April 1 | Photo: Reuters

India ‘on track’ to supply ‘cleanest’ Euro VI or BS VI emission grade fuel from April 1: IOC Chief

Two years after Delhi switched to Euro VI, or BS VI (Bharat stage VI) grade fuel,  which is ultra-low in sulphur content, petrol pumps in the rest of India are geared to switch to Euro VI emission compliant fuel from April 1, 2020. Currently, petrol pumps supply Euro IV (BS IV) grade petrol and diesel, which has sulphur content of 50 parts per million (ppm). BS VI emission grade has sulphur content of only 10 ppm. The chief of the Indian Oil Corporation, the state firm that controls almost half of the country’s fuel supplies, said almost all refineries began producing ultra low sulphur BS VI compliant diesel and petrol by December 2019, and oil companies are tediously replacing every drop of BS IV grade across the country with BS VI grade fuel. He said the cleaner fuel has reached storage depots across the country, and India is on track for supplying the new fuel. 

Meanwhile, IOC expects a marginal increase in retail prices of the fuels from April 1. IOC has invested around Rs3,000 crore to upgrade its refinery at Haldia, West Bengal, to meet BS-VI emission norms. The company has invested around Rs17,000 crore across its refineries in India to manufacture BS-VI compliant fuel.

Study: Air quality of many Indian cities remain world’s most polluted, China improves

China has dramatically improved the air quality in its cities, but major metros of India still remain the worst polluted cities of the world, according to the latest 2019 World Air Quality Report published by IQAir AirVisual. Fourteen of the top 20 smoggiest cities in the world are in India. Despite the claims of improvement by the Delhi government and the Centre’s launch of the promising National Clean Air Programme a year ago, Delhi has fallen to the fifth-worst spot globally and the most polluted major city in the world. Ghaziabad, a Delhi suburb, remains the worst ranked city in terms of air quality. 

According to the World Health Organization, dirty air kills around 7 million people each year. The World Bank estimates that air pollution-related loss of human life drains the global economy of $5 trillion annually. Vehicular pollution, coal-fired power plants, dust from construction, crop burning and industrial emissions remain the main source of toxic air in India and China. But China’s war on air pollution has managed to bring Beijing, notorious for its toxic haze, from the position of 88 to 199 on the list of world’s most polluted cities. 

NTPC to help set up 25 AQ monitors, the firm had recently rejected emission cutting equipment

State-owned coal power firm National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) will help the Central Pollution Control Board to set up 25 continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations in 12 cities across the country with a financial assistance of Rs80 crore. Recently, the NTPC had rejected the permission to install emissions-cutting technology by GE and other international firms. The coal lobby has pushed back a deadline to cut emission levels to up to 2022, over issues of “high costs and technical difficulties”. 

Study links PM 2.5 to kidney dysfunction

Air pollution impacts every organ of the body, previous research has shown, but the latest research from the US examines the damaging impact of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) on kidneys. Scientists found that higher amounts of fine particulate matter was linked with a higher degree of albuminuria, a marker of kidney dysfunction, as well as a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease over time.

Researchers said future studies should examine whether efforts to improve air quality reduce rates of chronic kidney disease. The US research is significant for parts of the world where PM2.5 levels are five to 10 times higher than in the US. Researchers said people living in countries with higher levels of air pollution, such as India and China, may face higher risks of developing kidney diseases. Scientists examined the data of 10,997 adults across four sites in the US who were followed from 1996-1998 through 2016. The research was published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Monthly average levels of PM2.5 were assessed based on participants’ home addresses. PM 2.5 comes from burning fossil fuel, industrial processes, and natural sources, scientists said.