[Answered] What are the reasons behind Delhi’s air pollution as per CSE report? What policy measures can be taken for effectively reducing the pollution?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some reasons behind Delhi’s air pollution as per CSE report. Also write some policy measures that can be taken for effectively reducing the pollution.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

India’s national capital New Delhi is known for being one of the world’s most polluted cities, with the problem getting particularly severe in the winter months. Air pollution in Delhi-NCR and the Indo Gangetic Plains is a complex phenomenon that is dependent on a variety of factors.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a Delhi-based organisation that focuses on environment-related research and advocacy, gave following reasons behind Delhi’s air pollution:

  • Local sources of pollution: vehicular emissions may have contributed around 51 percent to the PM2.5 levels in Delhi. Among these local sources, the next largest contribution was 13 percent from residential sources, and 11 percent from industries.
  • Construction activities contributed around 7 percent to PM2.5, followed by 5 percent each from the burning of waste and the energy sector. Road dust contributed around 4 percent to PM2.5 levels.
  • The 67.1 % pollution came from NCR districts (32.8 per cent), other districts (25.8 per cent) and biomass burning in the neighbouring states (9.5 per cent).
  • With vehicles contributing to the nitrogen dioxide levels in the city, the hourly nitrogen dioxide level was also found to peak around the time that congestion was maximum on the roads.

Measures for effectively reducing the pollution:

  • Verifiable and measurable shift to public transport by improving access, improving bus services and integration of metro stations with other modes of transport, besides providing an extensive network of walking and cycling infrastructure to connect neighbourhoods.
  • Delhi needs congestion and pollution pricing and other restraint measures to control the traffic volume.
  • Targets set for the electrification of the new vehicle fleet should be accelerated and met.
  • The State Governments of the NCR region must fill the critical infrastructure gaps that impede the implementation of policy measures. For instance, vehicle restraint measures are difficult to implement during smog episodes if the public transport infrastructure is inadequate in the region.
  • Government should find ways to commercialize paddy straw, as wheat straw is useful farmers have found ways to use it, unlike paddy.
  • More smog tower and anti-smog guns should be installed to reduce the level of smog in the capital.

Appropriate political will and aware citizenry is a prerequisite to tackle the menace. India must establish a national environment regulator just like SEBI (Stock Market regulator), RBI (Banking sector regulator) etc.

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