The environmental group Greenpeace India on Thursday said the AAP Delhi government’s claim that air pollution levels have reduced by 25% over the past few years was false.
According to a Greenpeace India analysis, “Historical ambient air quality monitoring and satellite data coupled with increasing fossil fuel consumption in Delhi and adjoining states contradict the government’s claims of a 25 per cent reduction in pollution levels over past years.”
In early September, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had claimed that pollution had reduced in the national capital by 25% in four years, citing a report by Central Pollution Control Board.
Delhi government had also released newspaper advertisements claiming pollution in the National Capital had dropped by 25%. In the advertisements, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had claimed that levels of PM 2.5 or particulate matter the size of 2.5 microns had reduced to an average of 115 between 2016 and 2018 from an average of 154 between 2012 and 2014. This amounted to a reduction by 25%, he had claimed.
Kejriwal had claimed that the opening of the Eastern and Western peripheral way along with the imposition of heavy environmental compensation charges has reduced the entry of trucks in Delhi by 30% and contributed to a 7% fall in pollution.
He said that Delhi is only 35% responsible for the pollution caused in the state while neighbouring areas of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Noida contribute the most to the pollution levels in the state.
Reacting to the Greenpeace report, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said they are not concerned about the analysis made by Greenpeace. “The Centre in its affidavit to the Supreme Court has said it under oath that the pollution in Delhi has reduced and the pollution in October and November is due to stubble-burning.”
However, Greenpeace India said that satellite data did not show any statistically significant reduction in PM2.5 levels over the period from 2013 to 2018. The NGO said that the data showed only slight reductions in the later part of 2018 compared to the past three years.
Contrary to the claims made by the AAP government that pollution levels have fallen in the city, PM10 levels have actually increased in 2018 according to the data at the manual air quality monitoring stations operated by pollution watchdog CPCB, the NGO said.
“PM10 data at manual air quality monitoring stations operated by CPCB under National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP) on the contrary shows higher PM10 levels in 2018 compared to 2013, 2014 and 2015,” it said.
Earlier this year in March, Greenpeace India had declared Delhi as the most polluted capital city in the world.
“It is noticeable that Delhi and the two states, Haryana and Punjab, saw a rise in coal consumption by 17.8 per cent from 2015-16 to 2018-19. On the other hand, total petroleum product consumption increased by 3.3 per cent over the same period, both contributing to increasing emissions and complicated clean air efforts,” Greenpeace said.
Avinash Chanchal from Greenpeace India said the steps taken in mid-2018 by the Delhi and central governments to reduce pollution were not enough to provide breathable air quality.
“The actions which have been taken and implemented to reduce air pollution in Delhi be it the bypass roads, shutting down of Badarpur Power plants, shifting the industries to PNG and availability of BS-VI fuel were taken in mid/end 2018. These steps along with others will surely result in a reduction of pollution levels on an annual average basis. But the majority of impacts of such steps collectively was not seen till the end of 2018 and these wouldn’t be enough to provide breathable air quality,” he said.
Chanchal emphasised that the trends in PM10, PM2.5 and NO2 levels indicate that emissions from fossil fuel burning are increasing in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab region while emissions from biomass burning from household and agricultural activities were falling.