A government claim that the source of the Capital’s deadliest pollutant Particulate Matter 2.5 is liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in homes and not vehicles has miffed experts who term it as an attempt to give the transport sector a clean chit for air pollution.
PM 2.5, the smallest pollutant absorbed mostly by the human body, can trigger heart attacks and respiratory diseases.
Rise in number of vehicles was believed to be the major source of the pollutant.
This claim was countered by Indian Oil Corporation this week when it quoted a Central Pollution Control Board study saying LPG was the major contributor to rising PM 2.5 in the Capital.
An IOC presentation at a seminar organised by diesel vehicle manufacturers said that half of PM 2.5 in residential areas of Delhi was because of combustion of domestic LPG. In industrial areas, it was as high as 61 per cent and at traffic junctions 40.5 per cent.
“It is not a complete view,” said CPCB chairperson S.P. Gautam. The board for the first time in India conducted an air pollution source appropriation study which was peer reviewed by air pollution experts from Europe and the US and is being examined by an inter-ministerial group. “I don’t know what IOC had said but there are many factors which contribute to particulate matter.”
The most intriguing findings were for residential areas in Delhi where vehicles contribute 22.4 per cent and kerosene combustion 17.4 per cent to total PM 2.5 pollution.
The presentation states vehicles contribute only seven per cent to particulate matter at traffic intersections and garbage burning for 14 per cent.
“It is shocking,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, Associate Director with NGO Centre for Science and Environment. “Refinery and auto industries have hyped data in public forums to prove vehicles are the cleanest and must be left alone.”
The CPCB study, which Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has decided not to put in public domain, is likely to be the basis for India’s future auto fuel policy. The government has constituted an inter-ministerial group to review the present policy, which expires in 2010, and create one for the new decade.
Environment ministry officials said the aim of the new policy would be to reduce the sources of air pollution.
Chowdhury said the government was framing a new policy without consulting people.