Delhi is once again grappling with hazardous air quality, as pollution levels soar to alarming heights. The capital city’s residents find themselves struggling to breathe amidst a thick blanket of smog. While various factors contribute to this annual crisis, it’s essential to shed light on the often-overlooked role of traffic and the surge in vehicle numbers.
Traffic Jams and Emissions
Delhi’s notorious traffic jams are a familiar sight for its residents. What’s less evident is how these traffic snarls contribute to pollution. When vehicles are stuck in traffic, they emit harmful gases, known as vehicular emissions. Drivers often keep their engines running during these delays, exacerbating the problem. The slow-moving traffic leads to increased levels of nitrogen in the atmosphere, further deteriorating air quality.
Center for Science and Environment’s Findings
A study by the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) revealed that when the level of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) is high in Delhi, vehicles are responsible for a significant 17% of the pollution. The city’s traffic situation compounds this issue. While certain restrictions have been imposed, monitoring and enforcement remain a challenge.
Shockingly, approximately 60% of vehicles in Delhi lack pollution certificates, making it impossible to verify if they adhere to emission standards. Experts argue that these unregulated vehicles are significant contributors to the city’s worsening air quality. Effectively monitoring all vehicles would require a substantial effort, but the necessary resources are currently lacking, resulting in limited enforcement.
Traffic Hotspots and Congestion
Delhi’s traffic woes are not uniform across the city. The Delhi Police identified 177 traffic choke points, and despite the construction of 10 flyovers aimed at alleviating congestion, traffic jams persist. Areas like Geeta Colony flyover, Pushta Road, Azadpur Chowk flyover, and Rani Jhansi flyover witness prolonged traffic snarls. Construction and encroachments in various locations further exacerbate traffic congestion and contribute to increased air pollution.
Rising Vehicle Numbers
The increasing number of vehicles on Delhi’s roads exacerbates traffic congestion. National Family Health Survey-5 data indicates that 19.4% of Delhi’s residents own a car. While the city continues to expand its road network, the surge in vehicle ownership has outpaced these developments. In 2019-20, Delhi had 1.18 crore vehicles, a 4% increase from the previous year.
The Urgency of Addressing Traffic-Related Pollution
Delhi’s air quality crisis is a multifaceted challenge, and traffic-related pollution is a significant, often underestimated aspect. To combat this problem effectively, it is imperative that stringent measures are implemented to monitor emissions and reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Without urgent action, Delhi’s residents will continue to endure the toxic consequences of unchecked traffic and escalating vehicle numbers.