Pollution in India’s national capital is so bad that the government is considering banning private cars altogether


  • India’s national capital, New Delhi, is facing severe air pollution issues with the air quality slipping from ‘very poor’ to ‘severe’.

  • As a part of an emergency action plan, the Environment Pollution Control Authority is mulling over stopping all private vehicles from entering New Delhi.

  • The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi has already touched ‘severe’, and with Diwali round the corner, it’s assumed that things are just going to get worse.

  • The government is hoping that the capital’s transportation system will make up for the resident’s vehicular needs.
Adding more fuel to the India’s national capital’s already worsening air pollution issue, New Delhi air quality went from ‘very poor’ to ‘severe’. Following the sudden drop in the Air Quality Index (AQI) on Tuesday, the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has been mulling over banning all private vehicles from entering the capital.

This week the AQI dropped to ‘severe’, which is basically the worst rating that you can get on the index. Categorically an AQI reading that ranges between 0 to 50 is considered to be ‘good’, anything between 51 to 100 is ‘satisfactory’, while between 101 to 200 is tagged as ‘moderate’. Things start to get bad once the AQI crosses 200 where anything between 201 and 300 is ‘poor’, between 301 and 400 is ‘very poor’ and readings beyond 500 are ‘severe’

Meanwhile out of 32 stations set up in New Delhi by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 18 stations recorded an AQI over 400, slotting the current situation in the ‘severe’ category.

Restricting private vehicles is a part of the Indian government’s Graded Action Response Plan. It is being considered an immediate and necessary action, albeit a temporary one. May percieve it as an upgrade to the ‘Even-Odd’ scheme the government had been implementing for the past two years where either even or odd numbered cars could be on the road on alternate days.

The government is considering this plan with the hope that the already overcrowded public transport system will pull through for Delhi’s transportation requirements. However, it remains to be seen if the capital, with its inefficient transportation system, can actually survive this.

As of now, Delhi has only 5,429 buses, which is less than half of the actual demand of 11,000. Out of the total 464 routes covered by public buses, half of them have merely one to five buses running frequently, as has been reported by News 18

According to the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO), PM 2.5 should not exceed a safe of 300 micrograms per cubic metre as it is toxic and can affect the health of individuals. New Delhi had already witnessed a breach by recording PM 2.5 over 1000 microgram per cubic metres.

Delhi’s pollution problems have a considerable lot to do with vehicular and industrial emissions, but matters are aggravated by agricultural stubble being burned in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.

And all of this, just before the festive season of Diwali, which spikes up the pollution levels thanks to firecrackers, along with dropping temperatures, makes things worse for the city. Thus, while little can be, and has been, done about the stubble burning and the firecrackers, banning private cars seems to be the only other solution.
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