The Centre has suggested restricting the entry of diesel vehicles in Delhi’s busy markets such as Chandni Chowk to bring down worsening air pollution.
The city’s deteriorating air quality has set alarm bells ringing. The WHO even rated Delhi as the most polluted city in the world, a tag contested by India.
The Delhi government and the Union environment ministry have been discussing an action plan to check air pollution. Controlling entry of diesel and other polluting vehicles to Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh and Lajpat Nagar — the city’s busiest shopping hubs — was one of several measures proposed, sources said.
“The idea is if the government can ensure visible improvement in these areas, it will send a signal that the Capital’s air quality was not as bad as perceived and the government was serious in tackling the problem,” a senior environment ministry official said.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, Chandni Chowk has one of the highest densities of particulate matter, or air pollutants, in the country.
Pollution levels in equally congested Karol Bagh and Lajpat Nagar during peak hours are not monitored but experts believe these would be alarmingly high.
Though it was for the Delhi government to work on the suggestion, the official said entry of vehicles could be regulated through colour-coded labels made available at filling stations. Free transport from nearby parking areas could be provided to reduce congestion.
“The city government has positively reacted to your suggestions and assured that they will consider its feasibility,” another official said.
Pollution is a state subject, which means the final decision would rest on the Kejriwal government.
This is not the first time that such steps are being proposed. About a decade ago, a plan to make Connaught Place’s innercircle a no-traffic zone had come up but traders resisted the move, fearing loss of business. A proposal for London-like congestion tax also didn’t go too far.
Vehicular emissions are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution in Delhi, which has the highest numbers of cars in India. On an average, Delhi adds 1,400 cars on its roads every day.