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Four Point Action Plan – Delhi Pollution

Four Point Action Plan – Delhi Pollution

UPSC CSE – SYLLABUS – GS – 3- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Four Point Action Plan – Delhi Pollution

  • The deteriorating air quality in Delhi has led the Centre to set up the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas.
  • Every year, as the air quality reaches dangerous proportions, emergency measures are taken to ease the situation.
  • However, in the absence of a long-term strategy, the problem recurs every winter.
  • The new commission, it is hoped, will initiate a comprehensive, multi-sectoral action strategy.

Poor air:

  • The causes of poor air in the National Capital Region (NCR) range from stubble-burning in neighbouring states to construction dust, industrial pollution, localised bonfires to meet the heating needs of the poor and emissions from motor vehicles.
  • Transport remains a consistent and significant contributor to pollution across all seasons and time frames.
  • Several source apportionment studies carried out variously by the Central Pollution Control Board, IIT, Kanpur and TERI have shown that on-road vehicular exhaust emissions account for nine per cent to 38% of particulate matter (PM2.5) in the atmosphere.
  • Reducing vehicular emissions alone could positively impact the air quality of NCR.
  • Short-term interventions like the odd-even scheme have yielded temporary relief.
  • Some significant initiatives to convert the state’s bus and para-transit fleet to run on Compress Natural Gas (CNG) have also resulted some results, despite the substantial cost.
  • A sustainable plan to reduce emissions from the transport sector requires a comprehensive and multi-year effort.

A four-pronged approach could help.

  • One is deployment of clean technologies; electric mobility is a rapidly-growing choice, globally.
  • India is focused on this sector, having formulated a National Electric Mobility Mission Plan and has instituted programmes that offer financial incentives for electric buses and other vehicles.
  • However, effective deployment requires a comprehensive and actionable road map involving all stakeholders which has not been put in place.
  • A phased road map stretching over 10-15 years needs to be prepared to raise the stakeholders’ confidence.
  • This road map must cover supply- and demand-side interventions – mandating purchase of Electric Vehicles (EVs), establishing charging and swapping stations, awareness campaigns, setting standards and incentives to vehicle and component manufacturers.
  • It should establish the way forward for registering Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs), increasing its share on roads by 50% or more (of all vehicles) and mandating that all buses, locally- operated freight vehicles, auto rickshaws and taxis in NCR become ZEVs by 2035.

Shared and non-motorised transport:

  • A second is adopting shared and non-motorised transport.
  • The key to effecting a modal shift is to persuade people to move from personal motor vehicles to either shared modes, like buses, metro rail and shared taxis or to non-motorised modes, like cycling and walking.
  • Unfortunately, the quality of India’s public transport systems – especially our city buses – have discouraged private vehicle commuters from making a shift.
  • To date, our city bus systems are primarily designed for affordability, not quality.
  • Affluent commuters seek high-quality options, featuring door-to-door travel, greater comfort, less crowding, and tracking and smart ticketing choices.
  • They are willing to pay higher fares for such services.
  • To earn their buy-in, public transport should incorporate a variety of premium services that ensure quality even if it means steeper ticket prices.
  • A strong push for premium, vastly improved last-mile connectivity options, to and from the Delhi metro would ensure ridership.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS):

  • Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is an emerging concept in some European cities that allows transportation services to be available on demand and as per need, through a mobile app.
  • Identical to the app-based taxi services in India, MaaS cuts across modes of transport to offer multi-modal trip options based on willingness to pay, time availability and other parameters.
  • In India, MaaS can revolutionise daily commutes and offer the much-needed solution for a modal shift.
  • To promote non-motorised modes, NCR must invest in well-planned and safer infrastructure for cycling and walking.
  • Developing bicycling and pedestrian masterplans and implementing them effectively could be key.
  • For shorter commutes, these can be important modes of travel.

Traffic Flow:

  • If traffic congestion is reduced and vehicles move seamlessly, then vehicular pollution will diminish.
  • This is because moving vehicles will disperse the emissions effectively, ensuring they don’t get locked up in one location.

Reducing Travel Demand:

  • Improving online delivery of public services can help reduce the average number of trips people make.
  • Policies and supporting infrastructure that allow citizens to work from home and shop online will help this effort.
  • Likewise, mixed land-use planning could reduce trip lengths.
  • Newly-developing areas should co-locate offices, commercial and residential addresses to minimise long commutes.
  • These actions to reduce vehicular pollution could begin the process of improving NCR’s air quality.
  • However, the need of the hour is a focused, comprehensive, systematic and multi-year effort across sectors.

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The deteriorating air quality in Delhi needs to be mitigated with a proper action plan. Elaborate.