Nitrogen oxide levels — largely influenced by traffic conditions in the capital — shoot up 38 per cent with lower traffic speeds during peak hour, an assessment by the Centre for Science and Environment for the month of June has found. The study used Google Maps to assess the impact of congestion on travel time and traffic speed on major arterial roads in the city and shows “virtually no difference” in travel time between peak and non-peak hours. These arterial roads are specially designed “to give priority and primacy to improve speed of vehicular movement”.
The study looked at hourly air quality data for NO2, using Central Pollution Control Board’s real time monitoring data in four stations, and found that when “average morning peak speed of 28 km/hr drops to 25 km/hr in the evening, NO2 levels increase from 68 microgramme/cubic metre to 94 microgramme/cubic metre”. It warned that the situation could get worse in the winter when inversion builds up during the evenings.
Further, of the 13 main arterial roads in Delhi with more than 60,000 passenger car units per day that were studied, the ones connected to NCR cities were found to be more congested. For instance, traffic on Sri Aurobindo Marg, which connects to Gurgaon via NH8, has an average speed of 24 km/hour, which often drops to 7 km/hour during evening peak hours.
“If not addressed immediately, Delhi will merely run to a standstill,” said CSE executive-director Anumita Roychowdhury, while pointing out that car congestion will only grow after car prices drop further under GST. “This is an inevitable consequence of unrestrained vehicle numbers that have crossed the 10 million-mark in 2017.”