If all the suggestions and the projections made in the Master Plan 2021 are diligently implemented, Delhi will be a less noisy city and its air will be a trifle cleaner in the next 20 years.
The MPD-2021 acknowledges that air pollution in Delhi has not reduced despite the introduction of CNG and Euro-II norms. It also takes note that Delhi far exceeds the national level permissible for noise pollution.
The Plan recognises noise as a “major pollutant” and a “health hazard”, saying that on an average, Delhi’s noise pollution level is around 80 decibel, much more than the permissible 50-60 dB.
It has directed the “authorities concerned” to prepare area-wise “traffic-calming schemes” and a Noise Monitoring and Control Plan.
It suggests relocation of public, semi-public and commercial activities along major transport arteries. Moreover, green buffer of thin leaved trees, land formations, mounds, embankments, etc, along major roads could also provide effective barriers to transmission of noise,” it says.
Noise generated by air traffic also finds a mention in the plan.
Experts welcomed the suggestions, but said questions remained over the issue of implementation.
According to Dr Naresh Tandon, member of the National Committee on Noise Pollution Control and senior professor at the IIT-Delhi, the plan could have been more realistic. “Measures that have failed to tackle pollution still figure in the plan, without innovations,” he said.
The Master Plan’s mixed land use policy would also have an impact on pollution, he said. “Large number of areas where mixed land use is allowed will obviously upset noise pollution control measures. And creating green belts between commercial and residential zones sounds too utopian,” he said, adding that the best thing would have been an overhaul of traffic and industry management systems with regard to curbing noise pollution.
In what could be a damper for the proponents of CNG, the Master Plan admits that the green fuel has failed to curb air pollution.
Admitting that industrial units cause a staggering 20 per cent of the pollution, it says, “A majority of pollutants are coming from the city’s three thermal power plants”.
Vehicles, quite predictably, have been found to be the main culprit, responsible for 70 per cent of the air pollution. To check vehicular pollution, the plan stresses upon making public transport systems an alluring mode of travel for personal vehicle users as well. “Personal vehicles constitute 93 per cent of the traffic on roads, but cater to only 30 per cent of the overall transport load,” it says.
The plan suggests inter-modal integration, single-ticketing system, clean and upgraded modes of public transport. It also admits that the policy of mixed land use will have to be “carefully considered” in order to curb vehicular pollution.
Anumita Roychowudhury, air pollution expert and Associate Director of the Centre for Science and Environment, said the Master Plan takes cognizance of what environmentalists have been talking about for long.