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The air we breathe in Delhi

Air pollution in Delhi

 Delhi's air quality worse than one of world's most polluted cities

 The 16.8 million residents of India’s capital Delhi get their smog right in the face from cars and trucks running on cheap diesel. Delhi’s air on average last year was laced with twice the toxic particles per cubic meter being reported in Beijing, leading to respiratory diseases, lung cancer and heart attacks.

Delhi’s skies being the most polluted in the world

  World Health Organization’s May first-week announcement about Delhi’s skies being the most polluted in the world? This collective indifference of a great mass of people to the certainty of their doom has few parallels in world history. It is as if Delhiites have become inured to criticism. After all, what label can be worse than ‘rape capital’ or ‘fountainhead of corruption’?

   NGT bans all 10-year-old diesel vehicles from Delhi roads

  The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 7 April 2015 banned all 10-year-old diesel vehicles from plying on Delhi roads, a decision welcomed by the state government as well as experts who also called for tightening emission norms along with banning entry of trucks and buses that aggravate the environmental damage.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar passed the order and asked all the transport authorities concerned to give details of all such vehicles.

  Delhi pollution charts

  Pollution level is rising in Delhi, with particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide reaching unhealthy levels, a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) report said on August 18, 2011  According to CSE, the official air quality index of Central Pollution Control Board showed that several locations in Delhi were in the grip of multi-pollutants. The review of the first 10 days of December showed that both particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide had reached unhealthy levels. Even carbon monoxide showed unhealthy levels at some key centres including Connaught Place, ITO, Karkardooma, Karol Bagh and the Indira Gandhi stadium. 

  Delhi tops the grim Air pollution charts released by a World Bank and Asian Development Bank joint study of air pollution for 20 major Asian cities between 2000 and 2003. For most hazardous of particles — PM10, which can even penetrate a face mask — New Delhi has three times more than Hong Kong. 

  Delhi is ranked as one of the world's most polluted cities for particulate matter. A scan of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee's real-time air quality monitor shows alarmingly high levels across the city of carbon monoxide and benzene, both gases directly attributable to intense vehicle traffic.


 The Delhi Metro is falling prey to hazardous emissions from the Yamuna. The toxic gases being emitted by the river are reportedly damaging the air conditioning (AC) system of trains that cross the river daily. As a result, the coaches do not remain cool. 

“Gases coming out of Yamuna are mostly ammonia and hydrogen sulphide, which is also called sewage gas. While the latter is responsible for corroding the AC compressors, the former has adverse affects on human health,” Avikal Somvanshi, senior researcher   at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.


 A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study in July, 2011 concluded that living in the Indian capital could shorten a person's lifespan thanks to the concentration of respirable suspended particulate matter in the air, double the national limit and six times the threshold set by the World Health Organisation.

  The growing number of vehicles and poor inspection and maintenance of in-use vehicles can completely undo the effects of. Contrast it with Delhi’s situation where 10,000 cars are being added every month. See  White paper on Pollution in Delhi, Govt. of India

 The CNN-IBN Outlook State of the Environment Poll ( published in June 5, 2008) asked citizens of six cities across India how they felt for the environment and Environment Pollution - related issues ;
In fact all those polled in Delhi also voted Air pollution was their number one woe. “Pollution is getting to us and we need to find a solution,” says Center for Science and Environment, Sunita Narain. If people were given a choice what is the one environmental issue they would want government to address, a whopping 86 per cent of the people want the government to plant trees, followed by reducing air pollution, providing Clean and Safe Drinking Water , cleaning up rivers, collecting and segregating garbage and finally improving public transport. “Why cant bureaucrats and politicians car-pool,” asks environment activist Leo Saldhana
  In a survey of almost 12,000 city schoolchildren late last year, 17 per cent reported coughing, wheezing or breathlessness, compared to just 8 per cent of children in a rural area.

  Children across the country are exposed to lead poisoning even in their homes, according to a study conducted by an environmental NGO, which was unveiled on June 4, 2008: The organisation, Toxics Link, found alarmingly high levels of lead in household dust in New Delhi, with wall paint being the main source.

  Dust wipe samples were collected from floors and window sills in 57 households in Delhi — and 31% of the samples of floor dust and 14% of the window sill dust samples contained levels of lead that would be considered hazardous by the US Environment Protection Agency. "While the study, ‘Dusty toxics: A study on lead in household dust in Delhi,' has been done in only one city, the situation is likely to be similar in other Indian cities. Lead is a highly toxic heavy metal, and once ingested, it remains within the body and can affect the blood, brain, nerves and intestines. "It can show up as anemia or abdominal pain in children.  

Checking air pollution should be priority for all: Delhi government

Asked by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar to check air pollution in the national capital, Delhi government on April 10 said that combating the environmental menace should be a priority for all concerned and must not become a subject of political wrangling.

In a letter to Javadekar a day after the Union minister exhorted the Delhi government to act against air pollution, Delhi's environment minister Asim Ahmed Khan said that an action plan to improve air quality was sent to the Union Ministry in the month of February.

   Delhi smog in 2012 was alarming

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir on November 5, 2012 expressed concern over the growing problem of smog in the national capital, media reports said. An NDTV report on Tuesday, said Kabir has hinted that the court may look into the matter. The report quoted Kabir saying that he is concerned over the raising levels of smog in Delhi. On November 12, 2012 taking serious note of the thick smog over Dehli Region over the past few days, the SC appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has asked four States – Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana – to take immediate remedial measures.

  Recent report of the Central Pollution Control Board

The Capital is leading the way with its old city recording the highest pollution level in the country, said a report of the Central Pollution Control Board. The report, accessed exclusively by HT as it has not been made public yet, said there has been a 19 per cent increase in air pollution in urban areas with 70 per cent of locations above critical levels. Chandni Chowk topped the list of 10 most polluted areas, moving up five positions from the previous list. Janakpuri debuted in the list, making it two for Delhi. Despite replacing its pollution-spewing diesel buses with with cleaner CNG ones and taking a host of measures like making Bharat IV norms mandatory for cars, regulating truck traffic and putting up effluent treatment plants, Delhi remains the country's 11th most critically polluted area.

The Central Pollution Control Board's latest Comprehensive Environmental Assessment of Industrial (CEPI) index in June 2011, that rates a place on the basis of cumulative air, water and land pollution indicators, puts Delhi's Najafgarh drain basin, that includes Anand Parvat, Naraina, Okhla and Wazirpur, at number 11 in the list of 88 most polluted industrial clusters with a CEPI of 79.4. With a nearexplosive increase in vehicular population, Delhi's air quality is worsening, compared to Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata or Hyderabad. The suspended particulate matter in Delhi stood at 180+ in 2009, against a safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre.

“The Ring Road in Delhi was built with a carrying capacity of 75,000 vehicles during peak hour,” she said. “It now carries over 160,000 vehicles.” The solution, both Gautam and Chowdhury agreed, lay in switching to public transportation.

  Experts say air pollution increasing cancer cases in Delhi

New Studies have revealed Delhi faces serious concerns about diseases caused by air pollution. Environmentalists say that with 690,000 vehicles on city roads, a growth of about 600,000 in 20 years, nitrous oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) are at critically high levels. And unless immediate action is taken, the results could prove disastrous. NOx and PM are known to cause Cancer  and Asthma and medical experts claim signs of deteriorating health are showing.

  Green technology vehicles

Delhi Ex- Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on 4th January 2010 inaugurated Twizy Z.E. Concept, a new electric car from the stables of Renault, which will be out on Indian roads by 2011.The blue and white two- seater works on the green technology principle. Renault India general manager Marc Nassif says  his company is commitment to green technology.   On September 18, 2010 Tata Motors shot us a press release containing details and images of the India’s first CNG- Electric hybrid public transport bus. It can accommodate 32 people, uses a parallel hybrid system and has a top speed of 72 kph. Tata says it has a team of 500 engineers who are readily available to service these buses. The vehicles will be in operation during the Commonwealth games that is about a fortnight away.

   Air monitoring stations

With Delhi fast becoming the most polluted city in South Asia, the Central Pollution Control Board has decided to install three more air monitoring stations here to update air quality data every 15 minutes. The equipment, costing around Rs 80 lakh each, would be installed at India Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) in Dilshad Garden, Netaji Subash Institute of Technology in Dwarka and third one is proposed at Delhi Milk Scheme in Patel Nagar, all highly polluted areas. 
  The continuous pollution monitoring devices are being set up in the new three locations witnessing sudden spurt in population, unmonitored industrial areas as well sharp growth in vehicular and human population in these areas, said the CPCB Director Mr S D Makhijani.  The new systems to be installed by the Board inaugurated on June 5, 2008 on the occasion of World Environment Day. Presently four continuous air quality stations are functioning from Siri Fort, ITO, Delhi College of Engineering in Rohini and through a mobile van that is stationed as per need.

New Delhi, Now More Polluted Than Beijing

India has recently pulled far ahead of China on one dubious development marker – air pollution in the country’s capital. The air quality in New Delhi on November 21, 2011 afternoon was significantly worse than the air quality in Beijing, according to real-time air monitors run by the Indian and U.S. governments in both cities. New Delhi, a landlocked, fast-growing metropolis of more than 16 million people, is regularly shrouded by haze and smog (Fog over Delhi ) in winter months, as barometric pressure and cooler air mix with construction dust, smoke from cow dung fires and car exhaust, which then hover over the city for days.

But this year, the air quality in New Delhi has seemed noticeably worse than previous years as the summer heat dissipates. On Monday, a thick gray haze hung over Delhi’s taller buildings, and a visible film formed quickly on stationary objects, leaving a chemical taste and grime on the skin.

   Noise pollution

The flyovers of Delhi have turned into giant vuvuzelas, blowing vehicular noise double the prescribed limits into the ears of people even six- seven floors above the ground. A study conducted by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) blames the hundred- odd flyovers that have mushroomed in the city in recent years for turning up the noise pollution levels in the capital.  People living near airports, highways, and railroads are majorly exposed to noise pollution. They are disturbed by the noise and it has been evident that they remain stressed by the noise and, in turn, experience physiological problems,Everyday noise exposure over time has an impact upon our ability to hear and on the degree of hearing loss that develops.

Drinking water pollution

Till now, the polluted drinking water have been found in groundwater and tap water. Water in bottles and canisters have for long offered the middle class the only option for clean drinking water. But it appears even these are not as pure as they claim. While the Central Pollution Control Board does routine checks on groundwater and river water, a one-off study of bottled mineral water in Delhi reveals that the so-called pure water has significant levels of pollutants, notably coliform (faecal matter), a major pollutant in the  River Yamuna , despite claims to the contrary.

The study took samples from five major mineral water brands. It revealed that most of these brands had levels of boron and iron exceeding safe limits. But what is more worrying is the presence of coliform (bacteria) matter in the water. In fact, all brands had excess levels of coliform, and in some cases there were traces of coliform from human faecal matter, the kind of pollutant found in sewage water.

   52 per cent of Delhi lives in slums without basic services

More than half of Delhi’s population lives in urban slums with inadequate provision of basic services, a study released recently. According to the study, titled “A situational analysis of the young child in India”, 52 percent of Delhi’s population resides in urban slums. The survey, conducted in six slums in Delhi by Forces, a voluntary organisation working on child care services in India, shows that in comparison to Delhi’s infant mortality rate (IMR) of 40, the IMR in slums is higher at 54 for every 1,000 live births.


    President Pranab Mukherjee opens Mughal Gardens to the public

Udyanotsav is a month long festival from February 14-March 15, 2015 wherein public is allowed to visit mughal gardens when the flowers are their best. The floral event is extremely popular and had recorded 5.84 lakh footfall in one month in 2014.
The 139-hectare area of mughal gardens will showcase 120 varieties of roses, 70 varieties of seasonal flowers, 2,500 dahlias, 250 bonsai  plants, 80 varieties o f cactus along with flowers like Calendula, Gerbera, Linaria, Larkspur, Gaznia, Verbena, Viola, Pansy Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Marigold and Salvia which line the symmetric pavements of the gardens.

Exotic birds find unexpected nesting in Delhi
 One of the world's most polluted and populated cities, Delhi, is home
to 450 species of bird - more than any other capital city in the world except Nairobi in July 2011. But it is unclear whether the birds will survive the continued growth of the mega city.

 Delhi biologist discovered 12 new frog species 

  Sathyabhama Das Biju, amphibian biologist of University of Delhi has been credited with more than a hundred discoveries in the field of amphibian research, including the latest 12 species he chronicled. Biju and his student researchers have listed the new species.

The report goes on to say that 31 percent of Delhi’s slum-dwellers has no sanitation facilities and no underground sewage system. On the plight of construction workers, the report says that 67 percent children and 69 percent women construction workers are undernourished. The report suggested: “The focus on quality health services has to be accompanied by a clear policy of land allocation for health services in Delhi’s master plan. The current allocation shows a decreased allocation of space for primary health centres in urban poor settlements”.

  Delhi is one of the worst Indian cities for women

Recent figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau reveal that 1 in 4 rapes in Indian cities take place in Delhi. The city also saw almost two fifths of kidnappings or abductions of women, 15 percent of dowry deaths and 14 percent of molestation cases.  Among large cities, Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai accounted for 13.2 percent, 9.4 percent and 9.1 percent respectively of the total crimes -- over one-third of the total crimes reported from 35 mega cities.

  ISRO's new policy to help satellites map Delhi

India's Remote Sensing Data Policy Year 2011 gives access to high resolution satellite photos, to all public and private agencies who will use them for social development. Commercial use is also permitted, provided companies are cleared by a high powered committee on July 06, 2011.

The Delhi State Spatial Data Infrastructure project has used them to create a three dimensional virtual map of the entire city. Savitur Prasad, Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Delhi Secretariat said, "Details of all residents, houses, localities. Entire details above ground in 1500 square kilometers of Delhi will be available. All the houses, names of individuals. And below the ground upto a depth of 12 feet. Water pipes, electricity cables etc." 
  Satellite data can also be used to help you pay your property taxes online, to monitor real time power and water demand in various localities, in land acquisitions, road transport and city planning. ESRI and NIIT GIS, private firms that deliver such solutions in various states welcome the new government policy.



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