Delhi has 14 million registered vehicles and an annual addition of 0.5 million vehicles a year

Vehicles contributed the most to pollution in Delhi during Diwali week according to an analysis released by think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) November 2, 2022.

The findings of the report came the same day as the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights asked the Delhi government to shut schools till air quality in the national capital improved, the Press Trust of India reported.

Delhi’s air quality has deteriorated to ‘severe’ in the last few days, according to Central Pollution Control Board data.

The CSE analysis noted that vehicles contributed nearly 17 per cent of the total particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentration in the city when taken along with biomass and pollution from the National Capital Region, other districts and Delhi’s own local sources.

“But if only Delhi’s local sources are considered, the transport sector topped the ranks, with vehicles contributing around half of the PM2.5 concentration from local sources. The indicative data shows that their daily share varied between 49.3 per cent and 53 per cent during that week,” a statement by CSE said.

Vehicles were followed by household pollution at 13 per cent, industries at 11 per cent, construction at seven per cent, waste burning and the energy sector at five per cent each and road dust and other sources at four per cent each.

“This observation is consistent with the trends evaluated during the previous winter in Delhi,” Vivek Chattopadhyay, principal programme manager with CSE’s Clean Air and Sustainable Mobility unit, was quoted as saying in the statement.

The study analysed real time data from Google Maps for 15 major arterial roads to assess the hourly traffic speeds during Diwali week.

“October 21 (Friday) and October 22 witnessed heavy congestion and average speed was observed at 23.7 and 23.8 kilometres per hour (kmph), respectively. On Diwali day (October 24) and post-Diwali (October 25), when overall traffic reduces normally, average speed on road was relatively higher at 33 and 32 kmph, respectively. Diwali day had the least traffic build-up,” the statement said.

GT Karnal Road and Guru Ravidas Marg witnessed some of the worst congestion in the city during this time.

Delhi has 14 million registered vehicles (according to the VAHAN database) and an annual addition of 0.5 million vehicles a year (of which 97 per cent are personal vehicles, mainly two-wheelers and cars).

“With more than 20 million population (estimate of World Population Prospect by the UN, 2018), the city is estimated to be generating at least 27.6 million daily travel trips. If most of these commuting trips have to be self-organised with personal vehicles, Delhi cannot meet the clean air target or the benchmarks for liveability,” Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, CSE, was quoted as saying.

The CSE study also found that combustion contributed more to PM2.5 concentration than dust sources. All combustion sources — including vehicles, peripheral industries, the energy sector, waste burning and residential cooking — were found to have a higher share than the dust sources that include construction and road dust.

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