It is that time of the year again when the pall of smoke covers the national capital and the decibel levels about reducing emission levels start gathering pace. Delhi’s air quality level remains very poor but on the optimistic side the reading is a tad bit lower compared to the previous few years.
While crackers, stubble burning and the significantly high road transport are often considered to be the key triggers, the question is can electric vehicles address the rising scourge of pollution. In fact, Delhi, ranked amongst the world’s most polluted cities by the WHO, saw the air quality measure at 326 on the morning after Diwali.
The magenta code on the chart indicated that the reading was ‘very poor’ and the expectation is that it is likely to turn ‘severe’ with a cocktail of emissions from firecrackers, stubble burning and the large number of motor vehicles plying on the road most of which are still petrol or diesel based.
As per the Central Pollution Control Board data, Delhi recorded an AQI of 382 on Diwali last year, the situation was even worse in 2020 when the AQI went up to 414. Poor Air Quality has been a consistent concern over time with the city noting 337, 281, 319 and 431 for the years 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016 respectively.
This was one of the primary triggers for switchover to a CNG-based public transport system in the early 2000s. In 2015, an environment compensation charge was levied on diesel-powered commercial vehicles. The year also noted the ban on 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the NCR as part of the phasing-out old vehicles policy.
In 2016, the Delhi Government introduced the Odd-Even Policy to combat peak pollution times. The notion and the need to shift to cleaner fuels has been persisten. In 2019, India saw the transition to BS VI compliant vehicles and increasingly the switch to electric mobilityis being seen as the way forward.
While there are a set of drawbacks associated with chargeable batteries that again would trigger a debate about the pollutants produced by burning coal for generating electricity. Every big step needs breathing space and definitely will work at its own pace.
Going forward, the EV push has definitely shown a positive result in reducing the vehicular pollution. Further planning and implementation are required so that metro cities like Delhi are in a better position to deal with the low air quality on the mobility front barring other factors, of course.