Pollution in India’s
national capital is so bad that the government is considering banning private
cars altogether. New Delhi air
quality went from ‘very poor’ to ‘severe’ in recent days. Following the sudden
drop in the Air Quality Index (AQI) on Tuesday, the Environment Pollution
Control Authority (EPCA) has been mulling over banning all private vehicles from entering the capital.
This week the AQI dropped to ‘severe’ in the
index. Categorically, an AQI reading that ranges between 0 to 50 is considered
to be ‘good’, anything between 51 to 100 is ‘satisfactory’, while between 101
to 200 is tagged as ‘moderate’. Things start to get bad once the AQI crosses
200 where anything between 201 and 300 is ‘poor’, between 301 and 400 is ‘very
poor’ and readings beyond 500 are ‘severe’.
Out of 32 stations set up in New Delhi by the
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 18
stations recorded an AQI over
400, thereby designating the current situation in the category of ‘severe’.
As per Indian Government’s Graded Action
Response Plan it is now being considered an immediate and necessary action to restrict
the private vehicles from entering the national capital; though it is a temporary
one. Many perceive it as an upgrade over the ‘Even-Odd’ scheme which allows either
even or odd numbered cars on the road on alternate days.
The government is considering this plan but it
remains to be seen if the capital, with its inefficient transportation system,
can actually survive this.
As of now, Delhi has only 5,429 buses, which is
less than half of the actual demand of 11,000. Out of the total 464 routes
covered by public buses, half of them have merely one to five buses running
According to World Health Organisation (WHO)
guidelines, PM 2.5 should not exceed a safe of 300 micrograms per cubic metre
as it is toxic and can very well affect the health of the people particularly the
children. New Delhi had already witnessed a breach by
recording PM 2.5 over 1000 microgram per cubic metre.
Delhi’s pollution problems get aggravated by
agricultural stubble being burned in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Uttar
Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan during the harvesting season.
And also the festive season of Diwali, along
with dropping temperatures, makes things worse for the city. Thus, while little
can be done about the stubble burning and the firecrackers, banning private
cars seems to be the only other solution
left for the government to do.