As Delhi grapples with rising pollution levels, hazardous AQI reading and low visibility, the government has issued a prohibition order for BS III petrol and BS IV diesel vehicles till Friday.
On Monday, the national capital’s average air quality (AQI) worsened from 371 to 434 at 4pm. An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered ‘poor’, 301 to 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 to 500 ‘severe’.
“Emergency situations call for emergency measures,” said Ashish Kundra, Principal Secretary, Government of Delhi.
When asked about the worsening situation in the region and long-term measures that are expected to be put in place, Kundra said that the government has been promoting the usage of green vehicles. The idea is to get rid of old polluting vehicles. Vehicles older than 10-15 years should be scrapped or be sent out of the Delhi-NCR, according to him.
“We are extensively promoting electric vehicles and the adoption of them in Delhi is the highest in the country. In 2022, almost 10 percent of new vehicle registration came from EVs, in December it went up to 16 percent. In the electric three-wheeler cargo it was around 60 percent in 2022,” said Kundra.
In addition, the government also was looking to convert 80 percent of the buses in the region to electric by 2025.
“We have already inducted 300 e-buses and have placed an order for nearly 1,500 more. Two days back there was a tender for 4,000 more e-buses and we will soon be out with a tender for 2,500 more e-buses,” reveals Kundra.
Speaking on the temporary ban on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel vehicles and the potential challenges for the common man, Kundra said that “Delhi with its extensive Metro network, along with the bus and other last-mile transportation vehicles was efficiently equipped to not create challenges for mobility needs.”
On the other hand, in an earlier interaction with Financial Express Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, CSE and KK Gandhi, auto and fuel expert and former ED (Technical), SIAM believe that banning vehicles is a temporary solution.
Gandhi had pointed out how resuspended dust is one of the biggest contributors to high particulate matter, as per most studies, “Most of our roads are broken. Every vehicular movement re-introduces these dust particles back into the environment. Unfortunately, no one will touch that as that involves the government directly. The road conditions are quite bad, the pavements broken and there is no systematic cleaning of the roads. A BS VI vehicle automatically does not mean clean emissions. If the vehicle is not maintained properly, even a BS VI vehicle can be more polluting than a BS-IV one.”
Roychowdury stated that the current severe condition in Delhi is a “direct outcome of what’s happening across the Indo-Gangetic plain. There is a lot of regional pollution. Need to ensure there is a regional plan in place with clear accountability and state-level coordination.”