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| Last Updated:14/11/2018

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Not cars, its dust that pollutes Delhi most: Ministry of environment and forest

NEW DELHI: The major source of pollution in the capital is dust particles and not vehicular emissions, the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) submitted before Supreme Court on Wednesday.

While dust contributed 52% of particulate matter in the air, pollutions from vehicles, including trucks and light commercial vehicles, accounted for just 6.6%, the ministry said.

"In Delhi, vehicles contribute only 6.6% particulate matter (PM) emission, 18.3% oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and 0.3% of noxious sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions whereas dust particles from paved/unpaved roads contributed 52% of particulate matter pollution," the ministry said, quoting a Source Apportionment Studies conducted in Delhi, Kanpur, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru.

"The source apportionment study carried out in Delhi reveals that re-suspension of the dust is also the major source of particulates in the ambient air. There is a need to focus on initiation of steps to reduce re-suspension of dust and management/regulation of construction activities," MoEF said.

Of the total particulate matter and NOx pollution caused by vehicles, private cars were responsible for 22% while trucks caused 45.8% and light commercial vehicles 27%, it said.

"Industry/power plants contribute 78% of NOx and 95.4% of SO2 content in the ambient air," the ministry said. It also responded to several suggestions made by senior advocate Harish Salve, who as amicus curiae had personally filed an application drawing the court's attention to the deteriorating ambient air quality of the capital, which squandered the advantage of converting its entire city passenger transport fleet to cleaner fuel CNG on court's orders more than a decade back.



Clarifying that the National Green Tribunal headed by former SC judge, Swatanter Kumar, was already seized of the issues raised by Salve, the ministry said Salve's suggestion to restrict plying of private cars on alternative days might not be feasible.

"It may not be an effective and feasible option as people using personal cars are not likely to shift the mode of travel. Persons using two-wheelers are likely to shift to public transport, which may lead to excessive pressure on services without yielding much benefit," it said and informed the court that it has sought views of public transport providers on this issue.

Salve had also said schoolchildren were the worst sufferers of the deterioration in ambient air quality and suggested closure of schools on 'red alert days', when the air quality nosedives. "Exposure of school going children to higher level of pollution occurs only for limited period during travel, while Air Quality Index (AQI) is based on 24-hourly average standard and prolonged exposures. Moreover, most schools are closed for winter breaks (when the air quality becomes worse)," it said.

The ministry of road transport and highways said that "it is high time that the pollution control authorities conduct studies for apportionment of causes of pollution in habitations including Delhi. All increase of pollution is always ascribed to automobiles based on studies done overseas".