Diesel fumes from gensets, autos choke city
Despite warnings by the Supreme Court, the National Green Tribunal(NGT) and the Environmental Pollution Control Authority(EPCA), the use of diesel continues to be a major source of atmospheric pollution in the city, with an estimated half of Gurugram’s auto fleet running on this highly polluting fuel.
The combustion of diesel is known to emit over 40 kinds of toxic contaminants into the atmosphere, including benzene, arsenic and formaldehyde.
Diesel exhaust also contains large quantities of sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which in turn lead to the formation of secondary aerosols, particularly polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a carcinogen.
“When we talk of pollution from diesel emissions in Gurugram, we tend to lay the blame on diesel generator sets. But the impact from diesel-based transport is likely to be worse,” said Niranjan Rane, a resident and a former member of the EPCA.
While no independent studies have been yet carried out to test the direct impact of diesel autos in Gurugram, a 2018 study by the Centre for Science and Environment found that in areas where diesel gensets were operated for several hours a day, the level of PM2.5 and PM10 increased by anywhere between 30% and 50 to 100%.
A 2015 study by IIT Kanpur also found that diesel gensets contribute six percent of all atmospheric nitrogen oxides (NOx) in Delhi. The same study also found that alarming levels of PAHs in Delhi’s atmosphere, and linked the same with both diesel vehicles and generators.
A subsequent study on Delhi in 2016, also by IIT-Kanpur, found that use of diesel gensets in Delhi adds more than 2kgs of particulate matter to the atmosphere daily, as well as 19,000 kgs of NOx, 1,200 kgs of SO2 and over 4,000 kgs of carbon monoxide.
“These figures are probably higher for Gurugram, where diesel generators are more rampant,” said Sachin Panwar, a city-based air quality expert.
“Now compare this with 12,000 diesel auto-rickshaws with poorly maintained engines, much less fuel efficient than diesel generators, and you will begin to see the extent at which diesel pollution is afflicting Gurugram,” Rane said.