Only 40 per cent of the particulate matter (PM) 2.5, a major pollutant in the air Delhi residents breathe in, is generated in the capital, according to a study.
The remaining 60 per cent comes from neighbouring states, stated a study conducted by scientists at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The study highlighted the need for a regional strategy to tackle rising air pollution in Delhi and entire north India.
The standard for PM 2.5 in India is 60 microgram per cubic metre.
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As much as 20 per cent of PM 2.5 is contributed by the transport sector, said the study. Other sources of PM 2.5 are burning of biomass as fuel for cooking, secondary inorganic aerosols formed through emissions by thermal power plants, and industrial emissions, said the study.
“The research identifies a range of measures with major emission reduction potentials including… paving to reduce road dust emission, rapid transition to clean cooking fuels in Delhi and its neighbouring states and comprehensive management of agriculture and municipal waste, including incorporating a ban on open burning of waste,” said Padma Rao, co-author of the study.
Scientists and experts have been demanding a regional action plan to tackle the problem of air pollution in north for months.
Markus Amann, lead researcher of the study, said there was an urgent need to engage with the neighbouring states to tackle the problem.
“Tackling multiple sources of air pollution in Delhi and its surroundings will also deliver a range of other benefits. We would not only reduce the estimated thousands of premature deaths a year from air pollution in Delhi, but also cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate infrastructure development… such as power grid expansion and new waste management practices,” he said.
The co-author of IIT Kanpur’s source appointment study on air pollution in Delhi, Mukesh Kumar, had earlier highlighted the need to focus on north India to improve air quality in Delhi. “Even if we control all sources of pollution within the city, off-site pollution will still contribute to pollution levels and take the capital’s air pollution levels to twice of what they should be ,” Sharma had said.