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Delhi beats Mumbai in eco-concern

india Updated: Feb 10, 2009 00:02 IST
Avishek G Dastidar

Are you happy with the air you breathe in Delhi? Most Delhiites aren’t.

Never mind the years of clean-air initiatives like the CNG-run public transport, subsidy to battery-operated cars and introduction of low-sulfur diesel, Delhiites still believe polluted air is the biggest environmental problem of this city-ahead of garbage disposal, and water pollution, a new survey has found.

Environmental NGO WWF-India questioned 800 people, 400 each in Delhi and Mumbai to gauge the eco quotient of the two metros and came up with some myth-busting findings about the two supposedly most-advanced mega cities.

For instance, a good 43 per cent Mumbaikars believe global warming is not really happening as opposed to only 7 per cent of their Delhi counterparts. While almost everyone in Delhi felt their city's carbon footprint was bad for global warming, around 22 per cent of those who believe in global warming in Mumbai felt the carbon emissions by the financial capital of India had no bearing on the global scale.

“Let Mumbai and Delhi have a few more years of abnormal winter and monsoon, then people will start wondering why this is happening. By next year, the results on this would be different,” said Ravi Singh, head of WWF-India.

On the respondents' aversion for the air they breathe in Delhi, the interpreters of the survey results have a different take. “In Delhi, we might think the air is clean, but statistically it is no cleaner than any other cities. It’s just that other metros are more humid than Delhi so the air feels thicker. The air pollution mixing height in Delhi during non-winter months is also higher than in other cities, so it may only seem cleaner here,” Singh said.

Water pollution has figured the lowest in the list of Delhi’s environmental worries despite the fact that the Capital’s age-old, leakage-infested water distribution network often invites public ire.

And living in a metropolis that has the highest number of cars among all Indian cities, Delhiites feel “Traffic” is an environmental problem, and quite a big one at that, the survey says.

Is it the BRT effect? “The BRT in South Delhi and other major public transport installations across the city have come up by taking away the greens. Instead of curtailing cars, they have curtailed space for cars in the BRT. Increased traffic jams have led to more congestion and environmental loss,” said Rajiv Kakria of Greater Kailash-I.