Nearly 60 per cent of pollution in Delhi caused by fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) originates from outside, with the neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh being major contributors to it, a new study on city’s air quality has said.
The study also revealed that the transportation sector contributes to a relatively low 20 per cent of PM 2.5, belying the notion that it is one of the biggest pollutants in the national capital.
The study by CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), a institute under Ministry of Science and Technology, said that Delhi urgently requires cooperation of neighbouring states to deal with the menace.
It pointed out that burning of biomass in cooking stoves and power plants is a major source of pollutants depleting the air quality.
PM 2.5 pollutants are micro particles that can enter the bloodstream and cause damage to the respiratory system.
“Only 40 per cent of PM 2.5 that an average inhabitant of Delhi is exposed to originates from within the city. Instead, the majority (60 per cent) comes from outside Delhi, with half from the surrounding states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and a quarter from sources even further away including neighbouring areas, and a quarter from natural resources,” the study said.
Markus Amann, Programme Director of Air Quality and Greenhouse Gases Programme, who led the research, said, “Delhi cannot solve this problem alone and there is a need to talk to outside (neighbouring states).”
Citing the example of China, Amann said even Beijing had to talk to its neighbouring provinces to curb pollution.
Similar was the case in Europe in the 80s when countries blamed each other for pollution, but had to ultimately cooperate to improve the air quality.
“By doing this, we would not only reduce the estimated 8,900 premature deaths from air pollution in Delhi, but also cut city’s greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate infrastructure development through steps such as power grid expansion and new management practices,” Amann said.
“The research identifies a range of measures with major emission reduction potentials including solutions paving to reduce road dust emission, a rapid transition to clean cooking fuels in Delhi and its neighbouring states and a comprehensive management of agriculture and municipal waste, including incorporating ban on open burning of waste,” said Padma Rao, co-author of the study.
The study was funded by Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) under the Department of S&T and International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA).