A study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has said this summer was one of the most polluted ever with both particulate matter and ozone levels exceeding limits almost daily.
The CSE analysis of official air quality data shows that ozone exceeded standards on all days in May and most days in April this year in areas such as Civil Lines and Airport and on 80% days in residential colonies such as R K Puram.
"While the air remains extremely dirty, severe energy impacts of growing motorisation are being felt as well. At the same time, the share of carbon dioxide emissions from personal vehicles, which warms up the air, is increasing rapidly," says Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE's executive director-research and head of its air pollution team.
Making an assessment of the quality of air in 2021 based on the present rate of pollution, Roychowdhury said breathing would become difficult by that year. The CSE says at present, 45% of carbon dioxide is released by vehicles. This will rise to 52% by 2021. Bus ridership has already dropped from 60% in 2000 to 40%. With each bus trip lost to cars and two-wheelers, pollution and health costs will worsen, the study says.
According to a RITES forecast, even after the full completion of the Metro rail project, the Metro ridership will still be at 20% of the vehicular trips, including non-motorised transport in 2021. The bulk of the public transport services will have to be bus-based. But bus ridership is expected to slide further to 36%.
"It is only by increasing the number of walkers and cyclists that the future can be protected. Delhi can avoid the looming pollution and congestion disaster only if its transport planning hinge on sustainability, equity, and people centric approach," added Anumita.