Delhi’s air has been as polluted and lethal over the past fortnight as it was before the introduction of CNG in 2001, according to daily data released by the country’s pollution watchdog.
The Central Pollution Control Board data has shocked experts who blamed the undoing on the rising number of private vehicles on the roads. They predicted that this year’s winter could be the worst in the past six years due to smog and problems that come with it.
Sunita Narain, a member of the Environment Protection Control Authority, said: “All CNG gains have been lost by inaction on the part of government... and sheer exploitation of air quality by huge registration of private vehicles.” Over 1,000 vehicles are registered in Delhi every day and 30 per cent of them run on diesel, which emit five times more respirable suspended particular matter (RSPM) and nitrogen oxide than those run on petrol. Before 2001, about 500 vehicles used to be registered a day and only two per cent were run on diesel.
Although RSPM, which causes breathing problems and asthma attacks, had been rising since 2005, it touched the levels of 2001 during the past fortnight with average being 270-350 unit grams in an area of cubic metre.
The man who introduced CNG in Delhi, MoS for Urban Development Ajay Maken, admitted it was back to square one. He said: “First, we need to strengthen our public transport system so that people can get an alternate mode of transport.”