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Bad air: Taking cue from Delhi, public transport in NCR cities should shift to CNG

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New Delhi: The fixed scent of soot and the irritation in his eyes and throat are the one reminiscences that Dheeraj Sahu (aged 58) has from his preliminary years of travelling to workplace in Delhi. It was the time when Delhi solely had diesel buses for public transport, most of which had been previous and extremely polluting.

But issues modified quickly after the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment in 1998 ordered an entire transition to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for all buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws in Delhi. “I used to travel for at least three hours every day to and from office in those blue-line buses. I remember in the summers after wiping my face, my white handkerchief would turn grey at the end of the day. Times have changed since then, now we have the metro and all buses and taxis in Delhi run on CNG. So, the direct impact of pollution while being on city roads has certainly reduced,” mentioned Sahu.
More than 20 years later, Delhi now has grow to be the biggest client of CNG in India amongst all states and Union Territories. Data from the ministry of latest and renewable vitality confirmed that previously four-and-a-half years, Delhi consumed 4,434 thousand metric tonnes (TMT) of CNG which is 1.4 instances greater than Gujarat’s consumption of 3094, which is the second-largest marketplace for CNG by way of gross sales.
But, even after Delhi’s full transition to CNG, the town continues to be one of the vital polluted cities within the nation. And the expertise which Sahu had in these rickety diesel-run blue-line buses can nonetheless be seen in some pockets of the town. A working example is the Anand Vihar space which is on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh (UP) border. It homes the Anand Vihar ISBT on the Delhi aspect and the Kaushambi ISBT on the UP aspect. Data reveals that air pollution on this a part of the town all the time stays 1-2 notches above the common for the town. Senior officers from the setting ministry mentioned it’s primarily as a result of UP primarily operates diesel buses for its inter-state transports poisonous emissions from which contribute to the unfavourable ambient air high quality within the space.
It is right here that consultants have repeatedly demanded that neighbouring states similar to Uttar Pradesh and Haryana or at the least the National Capital Region (NCR) cities must also shift their buses, taxis and autos fully to CNG. “At a time when Delhi plans to go all-electric in terms of any new purchases made by the government on buses and auto-rickshaws, the neighbouring states or the NCR cities such as Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida, Gurugram, clearly are lagging. While EVs [Electric Vehicles] are still an emerging market, CNG is sorted and can be easily lapped up by the respective state governments. So, the onus is on all stakeholders,” mentioned Anumita Roychowdhury, govt director (analysis and advocacy), Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Roychowdhury recalled that the previous anti-pollution watchdog, Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) additionally pushed for CNG infrastructure and focused the introduction of CNG autos in NCR like buses, taxis and different business autos. “Several issues related to setting up of CNG pipelines, stations, pricing of gas were addressed back then. There was also a problem that APM gas was not available in NCR. It had to be done by the private sector. But, all these can always be resolved and it ultimately comes down to the will or intent to do so,” she mentioned.
Delhi transport commissioner Ashish Kundra mentioned he raised the necessity for NCR states to broaden their CNG community within the current conferences of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM). “Unfortunately, there were no binding obligations on the cities which surround Delhi for conversion to CNG. Every day, thousands of diesel buses and trucks enter the city, not just from NCR, but from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir,” he mentioned.
Senior officers from the UP state transport company (UPSRTC) mentioned they’re engaged on a proposal to buy 130 new CNG buses and that 50-100 CNG buses are more likely to be given to the interstate bus terminal (ISBT) in Kaushambi, Ghaziabad, which shares its border with Anand Vihar in Delhi. The space has already been recognized as a air pollution sizzling spot by authorities businesses and residents are pursuing courtroom circumstances towards businesses for his or her failure to deal with completely different native sources of air pollution affecting their space. Of the 500-odd buses working from the Kaushambi ISBT, solely 125 UPSRTC buses are CNG-based presently, whereas the others are operating on diesel.
On November 18, the Delhi authorities even wrote to the Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan governments asking them to not deploy diesel buses which are older than 5 years for inter-state transport to the nationwide Capital. Delhi’s letter to the neighbouring states, a duplicate of which is with HT, acknowledged that public transport within the nationwide Capital runs 100% on CNG, whereas buses plying from different states proceed to be largely based mostly on diesel gas. “NGT has already directed that diesel vehicles of more than 10 years of life will not be allowed to ply in NCR… I seek your support to strengthen our hands in dealing with the grave situation by minimising the deployment of diesel buses destined for Delhi. It would be appreciated if vehicles of more than five years vintage are not deployed on Delhi bound routes till such time the pollution abates,” learn the letter written by Kundra.
Data accessed by the HT from the ministry of petroleum and pure fuel reveals that there are 3,179 CNG stations within the nation, of which Delhi has round 436. UP has set a goal of organising 795 CNG stations, of which round 485 had been operational as of March 31, 2021. Haryana has 186 stations towards the goal of at the least 280, Punjab has 101 towards 278, whereas Uttarakhand has 17 of the 50 stations deliberate within the state.
Kundra mentioned since air air pollution has no boundaries, a consolidated effort to harmonise these efforts inside and outdoors the NCR can be essential to lowering air pollution.