Despite COVID19 restrictions and lockdowns, several Indian cities register high air pollution – Gaonconnection | Your Connection with Rural India – Gaon Connection English

Despite COVID19 restrictions and lockdowns, several Indian cities register high air pollution - Gaonconnection | Your Connection with Rural India - Gaon Connection English

Despite COVID19 restrictions and lockdowns, several Indian cities register high air pollution – Gaonconnection | Your Connection with Rural India  Gaon Connection English

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Mandi Gobindgarh, Amritsar among top 10 polluted cities in India – Times of India

Mandi Gobindgarh, Amritsar among top 10 polluted cities in India - Times of India

Chandigarh: Punjab’s two cities – Mandi Gobindgarh and Amritsar – figure in the list of top 10 polluted cities of the country as per the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) tracker.
Industrial town of Mandi Gobindgarh in Fatehgarh Sahib district ranks third, after Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh and Durgapur in West Bengal. Amritsar is at the eighth spot. On June 6, the particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentration level in Mandi Gobindgarh was recorded as 56 ug/m3 (microgrammes per cubic metre) and 43 in Amritsar. As per the analysed data, Mandi Gobindgarh saw its PM 2.5 levels peak at 250 ug/m3 around 3am on June 6. The PM 2.5 are tiny particles which in the air reduce visibility and make air hazy if its level goes up from a certain level.
All the top 10 polluted cities across the country have recorded PM 2.5 concentration above the World Health Organisation (WHO) daily permissible limit of 25 ug/m3 and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) limit of 40 ug/m3. Moradabad and Durgapur were recorded with a PM 2.5 concentration of 79 and 73 ug/m3 over 24 hours.
The NCAP tracker developed by the climate and energy news aggregator — Carbon Copy — reveals that as on June 6, no city from north India was among the top 10 cleanest in the country. Devangere in Karnataka (3 ug/m3), Bengaluru in Karnataka (8 ug/m3) and Solapur in Maharashtra (9 ug/m3) were India’s top three cleanest cities. According to the NCAP tracker data, the most polluted city in the country for the week ending June 6 was Sonipat in Haryana, with a PM 10 concentration of 233 ug/m3. It was followed by Narnaul in Mahendragarh district of Haryana and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.
It has been noted that the summer time air pollution levels in various parts of the country have been above permissible limits, contrary to the popular belief that pollution is a winter month problem. At IIT Delhi, Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air coordinator Dr Sagnik Dey said, “Air pollution isn’t a seasonal problem. Hence mitigation requires long term planning which is missing even in the current clean air action plans for the non-attainment cities. It is important to prioritise the problems, identify timelines and resources and set accountability.” He pointed out that everyone discusses high pollution levels during winters and focuses on emissions from crop burning but “we need to look at prioritising and reducing emissions from transport, industry and so many other sources as well”.

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MMR has 6 pollution hotspots among top 10 in Maharashtra: Study – Times of India

MMR has 6 pollution hotspots among top 10 in Maharashtra: Study - Times of India

Representative Image

Mumbai: A deadly smog that makes breathing poisonous is no longer a characteristic of winter alone.. Unlike 2020 which was marked by clean air and blue skies during the summer lockdown months, the metropolis and its surroundings have contributed not only more pollution hot spots this year, but experienced a rise in levels of atmospheric particulate matter, according to a recent analysis.
Chakala in Andheri, Navy Nagar in Colaba, Nerul in Navi Mumbai, Mazgaon, Malad West, and Deonar are the six areas which figure in the list of top 10 most polluted areas in Maharashtra with very high levels of PM2.5 concentration in air (measured in micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3), according to the analysis based on the NCAP Tracker.
NCAP Tracker does a review of the national clean air programme implementation and impact assessment through which government aims to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by up to 30%. The tracker sources data from the Central Pollution Control Board. The platform has been developed by CarbonCopy and Respirer Living Sciences.
In 2019, the Mumbai metropolitan region had three spots among the 10 most polluted in Maharashtra (Pimpaleshwar in Thane, Mahape in Navi Mumbai and Sion in Mumbai) and four in 2020 (Nerul, Bandra, Mahape and Sion).
In Mumbai, experts with the pollution board say the reason for the city’s particulate load is vehicle pollution followed by dust and smog emanating from construction sites, waste burning (incinerators) and industrial emissions.
Between March to May 2020, when a lockdown was enforced, even the most polluted locations had a PM 2.5 concentration of slightly over 25 ug/m3, which is the WHO’s daily safe limits.
But in 2021, pollution levels have increased over the previous year as well as a year before. In 2019, six out of 10 most polluted locations in the state recorded PM 2.5 concentration of less than the CPCB-mandated 40 ug/m3 but in 2021, all locations on the list breached that mark.
Dr Arun Sharma, president, Society for Indoor Environment, says, such high pollution could lead to increased instances of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergies, bronchial asthma.

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Why Winter Measures Aren’t Enough To Clean Up Delhi Air – Times of India

Why Winter Measures Aren’t Enough To Clean Up Delhi Air - Times of India

New Delhi: While the country had seen a drop in pollution levels last summer, following the complete lockdown as blue skies dominated the news, data from major cities this year showed despite the partial lockdown in place, pollution levels remained above Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and World Health Organisation (WHO) standards in a number of key locations.
The analysis compiled by air pollution experts through the NCAP tracker found the top 10 most polluted locations across the country had an average PM 2.5 level reading between 99 and 120 micrograms per cubic metre. During summers, dust also plays a key role, pushing PM 10 readings up.
NCAP tracker data showed out of the 10 most polluted locations across the country, five of these were in Delhi, including Bawana, Mundka, CRRI Mathura road, ITO and NSIT Dwarka. The most polluted location was found to be the RIICO Industrial area in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan, with an average PM 2.5 concentration of 120 micrograms per cubic metre from March till May, followed by Sector 62 in Noida, with an average concentration of 113 micrograms per cubic metre. Bawana in north Delhi was the third, at an average reading of 109 micrograms per cubic metre, data showed.
NCAP tracker, a comprehensive review of India’s national clean air programme implementation and impact, was developed by CarbonCopy and Respirer Living Sciences to analyse air pollution data through the year.
Experts and health professionals said the data highlighted that knee jerk reactions should be avoided during peak winter pollution months and instead action was needed throughout the year. “Air pollution isn’t a seasonal problem and hence mitigation requires long-term planning, which is missing even in the current clean air action plans for non-attainment cities. It is important to prioritise the problems, identify timelines and resources and set accountability. Everyone discusses high pollution levels during the winters and focuses on emissions from crop burning, but we need to look at prioritising and reducing emissions from transport, industry and so many other sources as well,” said Dr Sagnik Dey, coordinator of Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air (CERCA) at IIT Delhi.
Dey said while in 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdown, pollution levels were at an all-time low, these were still three times the WHO annual safe limit of 10 micrograms per cubic metre.
NCAP data from January till June, meanwhile, showed Ghaziabad to be the most polluted city, followed by Bhiwadi, Greater Noida and Baghpat. Delhi was ninth on this list.
“Like in the winter months, air pollution will have similar effects on one’s health even in summers. High pollution levels may lead to increased instances of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), allergies, bronchial asthma, etc. The nature of the pollutants may have an impact and is something that must be studied by health professionals,” said Dr Arun Sharma, president, Society for Indoor Environment.

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Ludhiana Municipal Corporation forms five rescue teams for monsoon – The Tribune India

Ludhiana Municipal Corporation forms five rescue teams for monsoon - The Tribune India

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 9

In view of the upcoming monsoon, the MC has formed five rescue teams that would be led by Superintending Engineers. These teams would keep a vigil on the situation in different areas of the city and take necessary measures in case of any emergency or flood-like situation.

Sharing this information, MC Commissioner Pardeep Kumar Sabharwal informed that a 24×7 flood control room would be set up at Daresi and officials would perform duty in different shifts. The Commissioner conducted a meeting to review the arrangements for the upcoming rainy season.

Sabharwal said Poclain machines, JCBs and other machines are being used for the de-silting of the Buddha Nullah and the work would be finished by June 30. Seven vulnerable points had been identified along the Buddha Nullah and the B&R officials were directed to strengthen the nullah banks at these points. In every zone, 2,500 sandbags, floodlights and generators would be arranged.

The Commissioner said the work to clean 14 open drains that pass from different areas, including Damoria Bridge, Books Market, Dhoka Mohalla and Panj Peer Road, would also be completed by the end of the month. He said, “There are around 36,000 road gullies in the city and about 27,000 road gullies have been cleaned. The Superintending Engineers and Executive Engineers will conduct the field inspection and they will take necessary action to ensure cleaning of remaining road gullies.”

The officials have also been directed to check the status of manholes in the city. There are 172 low-lying areas in the city as per the information. MC officials have been directed to make sure to get accumulated water removed timely and reduce the waterlogging time in these areas. The MC has arranged 34 dewatering pumps to be used in low-lying areas as per requirement.

There are 23 sewer disposal units in the city and officials have been asked to make required arrangements, including generator sets, at these units. The Commissioner has also directed the officials concerned to make provision of chlorine tablets.

Mechanical sweeping machines’ demo

The Municipal Corporation organised a trial of mechanical sweeping machines. A few firms gave a demo of the mechanical sweeping machines. The MC is going to purchase the mechanical sweeping machines under the National Clean Air Programme.

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How Lucknow Became One Of India’s Dirtiest Cities – Youth Ki Awaaz

How Lucknow Became One Of India’s Dirtiest Cities - Youth Ki Awaaz

By Sucheta Chaurasia

According to the World Air Quality Report 2020, Lucknow is presently the ninth most polluted city in the world with pm 2.5 concentrations docked at 86.2 µg/m3 – 11 times more than WHO limits. The city suffered an estimated economic loss of Rs 8,001 crore ($1.1billion) due to bad air quality, and 6700 deaths in 2020. The air quality in the city is so bad that studies estimate that its residents could lose 10.3 years of their life expectancy on average if the pollution persists. 

Lucknow has become one of the most polluted cities in the world.

In 2020 alone, air pollution in the city caused 20 avoidable deaths in a day. In winters, the problem becomes more apparent as air quality reaches toxic levels. But how did this come to be? And how did a city once known for its charm and hospitality become one of the dirtiest and deadliest in the world? 

Causes Of The Air Pollution

According to the 2011 census, the population of Lucknow has risen by more than 25 percent since 2001.  And while the city has shown phenomenal growth in its area too – from 143 sq km in 2001 to 310 sq km in 2011 – development has neither happened sustainably nor has it been able to keep up with the needs of the burgeoning population. 

For example, Lucknow presently has 8100 people living her square kilometer in its urban parts, as against 690 people per square kilometer recorded at the state level.

Researchers who have studied various aspects of air pollution in the city have identified particulate matter as the main air pollutant in the city, with deterioration in air quality primarily getting caused due to unchecked vehicular pollution and rampant construction.

Presently, Lucknow has more than 18 lakh vehicles, and this number is increasing at an average rate of about 9 percent every year. From 2001 to 2011, the city recorded a growth of approximately 25 percent in population and a corresponding 160 percent growth in the number of vehicles.

Also affecting the air quality in the city is the increase in construction activities in the last few years including construction being undertaken for metro rail, roads, flyovers construction, and multi-story apartment complexes. For example, the construction of private apartments, flats, and buildings alone has increased by 300 percent in the last two years.

An increase in industrial activities, increased energy consumption, burning of biomass and garbage have also resulted in a decrease in the quality of the city’s ambient air.  Besides the four industrial corridors that have at least 155 industries producing hazardous emissions, 255 brick kilns are also in operation around Lucknow City – contributing to pollution levels.

High traffic densities and abnormal meteorological factors ( Lucknow falls in the Indo- Gangetic zone – a particularly vulnerable zone) –  are the two other factors adversely influencing the ambient air quality of Lucknow, especially in winters.

Representational Image

industry is a major pollutant for the city. 

Lucknow’s proposed master plan 2031 envisages that the area of the city will further increase to 654 sq km by the inclusion of 197 villages, seeing a projected population rise of 65 lakh. This will involve not just changing land use plans of existing open/ agricultural areas to residential, commercial, or industrial areas, but also mean that unless some thought is put into the city’s urban planning, the emissions will likely increase due to an increase in population as well as activities causing pollution.

You can find a graphic representation of Lucknow’s air quality here.

What Is Being Done About It?

Along with 14 others in Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow has been identified as a non-attainment city (i.e. a city which does not meet the fixed standard of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) under the National Clean Air Programme (NACAP)  by the Central Board Of Pollution Control for five years now. Under the NCAP, cities are required to prepare city-specific clean air plans as a primary mitigation measure for reducing particulate concentration by 20 to 30 percent by 2024. 

Under this, The Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has come up with an action plan for the next 10 years to counter the declining air quality of the city to reduce pollution levels by 35 percent, 50 percent, and 70-80 percent in the next three, five and ten years respectively. 

While the short-term plan includes measures like conducting awareness drives and campaigns against pollution and installation of ambient air quality monitoring systems;  the long-term view involves maintaining at least 33% of forest cover in the city as well as switching to bioethanol as a transport fuel in the city.

The Way Ahead

Since the implementation of the action plan in 2018, the city’s air quality has improved slightly, but the extreme health hazard remains. 

According to an independent CEEW-Urban Emissions study that assesses the 102 publicly available clean air plans, Lucknow’s plan currently lists 56 measures across 17 different agencies. The study also found that among the 15 city clean air plans in UP, the state pollution control board is in charge of only 20 percent of the mitigation activities, while 44 percent comes under the ambit of municipal corporations and urban local bodies (ULBs) and 18 percent under the department of transport. About 50 percent of actions fall under multiple agencies-  something that could fragment accountability

Experts have also observed a lack of proper and sustained enforcement of the measures mentioned in the plan. According to experts, it is the need of the hour to expedite the plan’s implementation and ensure greater transparency regarding its progress for all stakeholders.

Currently, UPPCB is planning to implement a grid-level action plan, using a methodology developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur to manage the air quality at a micro-unit level. As per the plan, Lucknow city will be divided into grids, each measuring 2 km by 2 km each. This is aimed at gathering more detailed information on the air quality area-wise so that the information can be used to and then prioritize the areas that need immediate attention. 

For the implementation of the plan, 45 crores have been granted by the Finance Commission for the implementation of this plan. The UPPCB has also undertaken projects for creating a green cover around the city. This would include the development of greenbelts along the highways, landfill sites, and areas such as that around brick kilns. 

While these measures will no doubt be beneficial if they are implemented, it remains to be seen how soon that will be. 

Feature image credits: Ajay Goyal/Flickr

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Mohdi: India's vision for a biofuels future – Biofuels International Magazine

Mohdi: India's vision for a biofuels future - Biofuels International Magazine

India has brought forward its target of blending petroleum with 20% ethanol by five years in its efforts to accelerate towards renewables and make its overall energy basket cleaner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
Modi, who was speaking on the occasion of the World Environment Day, said the country would now aim to achieve the target of 20% blending by 2025, instead of 2030.
He said this was a move that will not only prepare the country for energy transition, but also aim to support the livelihood of farmers in the country.
“The focus on ethanol is having a better impact on the environment as well as on the lives of farmers,” Modi added.
The Prime Minister said that until 2014, on an average, only 1.5% of ethanol could be blended in India.
However, this has now reached about 8.5% adding that the multifold increase had benefitted the country’s sugarcane farmers.
Modi said India has placed a lot of emphasis on building the necessary infrastructure for the production and purchase of ethanol in the country.
The ethanol manufacturing units are mostly concentrated in four to five states where sugar production is high, S&P Global Platts reported.
The government was now speeding up the process of establishing food grain-based distilleries as well as setting up modern technology plants to make ethanol from agricultural waste.
“India is also aware of the challenges that are being faced due to climate change and is also working actively,” Modi said.
He said the country’s capacity for renewable energy had increased by more than 250% in the last six to seven years, making India one of the top five countries of the world in terms of installed renewable energy capacity.
India is working with a holistic approach through the National Clean Air Programme to curb air pollution.
He also said that the government had identified 11 sectors which could potentially make good use of resources by recycling them using modern technology.

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India's Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy Needs More Direction – The Wire

India's Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy Needs More Direction - The Wire

The American mathematician Edward Quade once said that “policy makers seem to fail more often because they solve the wrong problem than because they get the wrong solution to the right problem”. Quade’s observation holds true even today – more so in the context of India’s air pollution crisis, which suffers from a surplus of ‘solutions’ with very little understanding of the problem.

Simply put, our polluted air is more the result of our right to pollute than for the desire for a clean environment. So the question policymakers and governments are trying to address on the issue of air pollution mitigation has become: how do we achieve the desired level of pollution?

This approach has resulted in a range of false solutions that offer an illusion of action but have little impact in reality. City action-plans initiated under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) are riddled with such solutions. They range from the pointless (street sweeping, road expansion, water sprinkling) to the bizarre (water fogging and smog guns). An honest attempt at policymaking calls for a deeper dive into the several complexities behind the crisis and to avoid the pitfalls of institutional reductionism – whereby the complexities of real-world situations are stripped away and problems are over-simplified.

Funds for source apportionment

The National Green Tribunal in Delhi. Photo: Max Goth/Flickr, CC BY NC ND 2.0

Those following the air pollution debate have witnessed an almost illogical endorsement of source apportionment as a tool to understand India’s air pollution woes. As a result, source apportionment science has moved to the heart of the city action-plans. A little over 122 non-attainment cities under NCAP are required to plan and execute source apportionment studies.

In its maiden report on the programme (2019), the Union environment ministry laid out the following logic for source apportionment: “The current knowledge on the urban sources provide a basis to initiate action in the different sectors, though city-specific source apportionment studies is needed to refine air quality management plans for the city”.

The document is silent on the exact science of prioritising actions, especially when all sources of pollution demand intervention at the same time.

Among the other strong proponents of apportionment studies has been the National Green Tribunal (NGT). In its order in an ongoing case (O.A 681, 2018), the principle bench of the NGT emphasised the need for source apportionment studies in air quality management. While the tribunal’s position has been emphatic, its view on its role in pollution mitigation is not clear. For example, in an order dated August 21, 2020, in the ongoing suo motu case on implementing the NCAP, the tribunal has made the following observation:

“Depending upon assessed carrying capacity and source apportionment, the authorities may consider the need for regulating number of vehicles and their parking and plying, population density, extent of construction and construction activities etc. Guidelines may accordingly be framed to regulate vehicles and industries in non-attainment cities in terms of carrying capacity assessment and source apportionment.”

The tribunals’ observation offers no clarity on how a source apportionment study could add value to an action plan. For example, regulating vehicle density, parking and construction activities has been part of urban planning agendas of various cities for decades. The failure to regulate them is not due to the lack of knowledge of their contributions to air pollution but due to persistent sociopolitical factors.

Despite this, non-attainment cities across the country continue to carry out (often) expensive apportionment studies. According to a compliance report the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) submitted to the tribunal, source apportionment studies have been completed in four states (and five cities); is under progress in 14 states (54 cities); and in the proposal stage in 10 states (37 cities). The environment ministry’s financial allocation in FY 2020-2021 for pollution control, which includes allocation to meet the NCAP agenda’s action points, is Rs 460 crore. At Rs 80 lakh per study (according to information the CPCB provided to an RTI application), the cumulative cost of carrying out studies in all 122 non-attainment cities is Rs 97.6 crore – nearly 20% of the NCAP budget.

History of source apportionment

A man stands on a hill as smoke emits from a chimney of a leather tannery at an industrial area in Kanpur, May 4, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Before dwelling on the efficacy of source apportionment studies in pollution mitigation, it’s important to understand how the apportionment science became essential to environmental decision-making. The environment ministry says in its report: “…current knowledge on the urban sources provide a basis to initiate action in the different sectors, though city-specific source apportionment studies are needed to refine air quality management plans for the city”. It says nothing more to link source apportionment to pollution mitigation.

Among the countries in the Indian subcontinent, India has carried out the greatest number of studies to date, including of spatiotemporal variations, characterisation and apportionment of particulate matter sources.

Also read: In Lakshadweep, a Political Administrator Courts Ecological Mayhem

The most comprehensive series of source apportionment studies were carried out between 2007 and 2010, for Delhi, Chennai, Kanpur, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune. Institutions like the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi and IIT Madras conducted them. Eventually, they paved the way to include source apportionment science in mitigation programmes. And since then, niche researchers and experts have promoted source apportionment science as a precursor to mitigation action and as an important tool to inform policy.

However, its contribution to either has been suspect.

This author reviewed around 73 source apportionment studies carried out from 2001 to 2017, by various academic institutions. A quick analysis suggests that sources that contribute to poor urban air-quality have remained constant over the last four decades – and so have the associated recommendations. No change.

Gap between science and policy

A hazy morning in Mumbai. Photo: Balaji Srinivasan/Pexels

A study conducted in Mumbai in 1982, entitled ‘Level of Air Pollution in Bombay’ and published in the Indian Journal of Environmental Protection (by Rashmi Mayur) makes the following recommendations with regard to the transport sector (quoted verbatim):

1. Since automobiles are the major culprit … the urgent task is to reduce the number of cars and their movement in the city. It should not be difficult to provide an efficient public transport system.

2. Recognising that there are many old cars on the road, contributing to the problem of pollution, all efforts should be made either to remove them or to assure their performance at a given standard.

3. There should be proper synchronisation of traffic signals in order that flow can be assured during peak hours.

4. It was observed that one factor influencing the flow of traffic was parking on the thoroughfare sometimes illegally. If pollution in this area … is to be controlled, traffic regulations must be strict and should be implemented.

Four decades later, in 2011, the CPCB compiled the National Summary Report on emission monitoring and source apportionment. It makes the following recommendations as the “way forward” for the transportation sector (quoted verbatim):

1. Improvement of fuel quality and vehicle exhaust norms – roadmap beyond 2010 for progressive implementation of BS IV/V norms.

2. Old vehicles – retrofitment of pollution control devices, scrap policy, inspection & maintenance issues, etc.

3. Use of IT in traffic management, guidelines for minimising/synchronisation traffic signals, providing adequate parking, parking fee structure, etc.

Note that barring the sophistication of language, there is little new that the CPCB report has to offer compared to the 1982. The rest of the recommendations only focus on technical aspects emphasising the prowess of monitoring science, advancing more research on source apportionment, developing emission inventories, etc.

Another comparison of source apportionment studies in five cities highlights their limitations vis-à-vis articulating solutions. The sources and their targeted interventions are similar across cities, with little clarity on achieving these targets.

Delhi 2018

– Strict implementation of BS VI norms

– Improvement and strengthening of inspection and maintenance system

– Penetration of electric and hybrid vehicles

– Traffic congestion management and synchronising of traffic signals

– Ban of 15 year and old private and 10 year old commercial vehicles

– Improving public transport as per the existing plan of the city

– Change to clean fuel (ethanol, biodiesel etc.)

Chennai 2017

– Adoption of BSV or VI norms to reduce the emissions from vehicular sources of NOx in particular

– Banning of 10 year old commercial vehicles and 15 year old private vehicles to reduce the emissions of NOx

– Improvement of public transport

Bangalore 2010

– Strengthening of Public transport system

– Ban on old vehicles (10 years+) in the city

– Installation of pollution control devices (DOC/DPF) in all pre-2010 diesel vehicles

– Introduction of hybrid vehicles/ electric vehicles

– Improve traffic flow

– Alternative fuels such as ethanol, bio-diesel

– Effective Inspection and maintenance regime for vehicles

Pune 2010

– Implementation of BS VI norms

– Electric and hybrid vehicles

– CNG-LPG and Hydrogen-CNG blend for commercial vehicles (alternate fuel)

– Synchronization of traffic signals

– Banning of 15 year old private vehicle and 10 year old commercial vehicles

– Improvement of public transport: % share

Mumbai 2010

– Implementation of BS VI norms

– Electric and Hybrid vehicles

– CNG/LPG, Ethanol blending (E10 — 10% blend) Bio-diesel (B5/ B10: 5–10% blend) – alternative fuels

– Synchronization of traffic signals

– Improvement of public transport: as per existing plan for the city

– Banning of 8 year old commercial vehicles and Banning of 15 year old private vehicle

Kanpur 2010

– Adoption of BS VI for all vehicles

– Banning of 15 year old private vehicles and 10 year old commercial vehicles

– Inspection and maintenance of vehicles

– Restricted vehicle movement ~50% only (traffic management)

– CNG/LPG for commercial vehicles

Reliability check

A hazy morning in Lucknow, November 2019. Photo: PTI

In addition to imposing a challenge on air-quality planners, these issues also question the reliability of source apportionment science as a policy-planning tool, and its ability to go beyond performing an exercise in academic inquisitiveness.

Source apportionment studies carried out by various agencies/researchers differ significantly in their findings. A comparative analysis by researchers at the Council for Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) concluded: “In comparing various emissions inventories of air pollutants for Delhi and the NCR, this study finds significant differences in their estimates of total pollutant load and, especially, sectoral emissions.”

Also read: Vedanta’s Oxygen Output in Thoothukudi Is Less CSR, More Disaster Capitalism

For example, the study found significant variations in PM2.5 emissions across sectors: from 17.9% to 39.2% by transport, 2.3% to 28.9% by industries, 3.1% to 11.0% by power plants, 18.1% to 37.8% by road dust and 2.2% to 8.4% by construction.

Simply put, different source-apportionment approaches may lead to different conclusions (to support air quality-planning). These differences are a consequence of the intrinsic assumptions that underpin different methodologies and determine or limit their range of applicability.

No magic bullet

North Chennai Thermal Power Station, Ennore. Photo: Adarsh B. Pradeep

Experts working on air pollution have also expressed their frustration with an excessive reliance on source apportionment science to design mitigation strategies. In a country like India, with high pollution, a poor implementation framework and limited financial resources, source apportionment studies are an indulgence – a tactic to delay real action. Put differently, a source apportionment study is most effective to understand the achievements of a well implemented mitigation strategy, not to frame one.

The Indian policy ecosystem is replete with laws designed to guarantee its citizens the right to clean air and water. A detailed analysis of the policy landscape (prepared for this article) found that each target sector that a study assessed has dedicated rules, laws and guidelines to address its environmental impact. Some of them have been in place for decades but have failed to achieve their goals.

So let’s be clear: deteriorating air quality in the country is not due to a dearth of policies. In fact, the air quality discourse will benefit if we invest resources to honestly understand and address the implementation challenges facing the existing set of policies.

This said, the NCAP itself is not good policy. The CEEW and independent research group Urban Emissions undertook a comprehensive study of 102 city action-plans under the NCAP. They found that the plans lacked transboundary coordination, funding, clear targets and accountability.

Two questions automatically follow: Are the findings of source apportionment studies really influencing policy implementation? And does our knowledge of sector-specific contributions (e.g., 35% from transport, 22% from diesel generators, etc.) help when logic calls for simultaneous interventions?

It is therefore vital for policymakers and regulators to ask the following questions with regard to source apportionment:

1. How has source apportionment enhanced the implementation of existing laws and policies on air pollution?

2. Does the identification of pollution sources and the exact percentage of their contribution result in proportionate action?

3. Have previous source apportionment studies resulted in any positive action on the ground?

4. Can these resources be better used for mitigation measures?

There is no disputing the fact that source apportionment science is important in informing air quality management. However, they seem to be less significant as a policy-planning tool for countries like India, which have a fairly sound policy ecosystem but lack the implementation capacity. As this article has argued, researchers’ recommendations based on various source apportionment studies remain similar, and offer little value vis-à-vis policy outcomes.

Existing studies clearly show that multiple sources impact the air quality over India. We need to address them simultaneously, and not in consecutive fashion. Further, the state’s continued impoverishment of regulatory agencies does not align with the overall agenda it has outlined under ambitious programs like the NCAP. Instead of pursuing source apportionment exercises, Indian cities will be better off spending their finite resources on schemes to mitigate pollution.

Dharmesh Shah is a senior technical advisor at the Lawyers Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), New Delhi.

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Analysis: India's Air Pollution Policy Has a Source Apportionment Problem – The Wire Science

Analysis: India's Air Pollution Policy Has a Source Apportionment Problem - The Wire Science

View from Rajpath on a hazy morning in Delhi, October 2019. Photo: PTI

The American mathematician Edward Quade once said that “policy makers seem to fail more often because they solve the wrong problem than because they get the wrong solution to the right problem”. Quade’s observation holds true even today – more so in the context of India’s air pollution crisis, which suffers from a surplus of ‘solutions’ with very little understanding of the problem.

Simply put, our polluted air is more the result of our right to pollute than for the desire for a clean environment. So the question policymakers and governments are trying to address on the issue of air pollution mitigation has become: how do we achieve the desired level of pollution?

This approach has resulted in a range of false solutions that offer an illusion of action but have little impact in reality. City action-plans initiated under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) are riddled with such solutions. They range from the pointless (street sweeping, road expansion, water sprinkling) to the bizarre (water fogging and smog guns). An honest attempt at policymaking calls for a deeper dive into the several complexities behind the crisis and to avoid the pitfalls of institutional reductionism – whereby the complexities of real world situations are stripped away and problems are over-simplified.

Funds for source apportionment

The National Green Tribunal in Delhi. Photo: Max Goth/Flickr, CC BY NC ND 2.0

Those following the air pollution debate have witnessed an almost illogical endorsement of source apportionment as a tool to understand India’s air pollution woes. As a result, source apportionment science has moved to the heart of the city action-plans. A little over 122 non-attainment cities under NCAP are required to plan and execute source apportionment studies.

In its maiden report on the programme (2019), the Union environment ministry laid out the following logic for source apportionment: “The current knowledge on the urban sources provide a basis to initiate action in the different sectors, though city-specific source apportionment studies is needed to refine air quality management plans for the city”.

The document is silent on the exact science of prioritising actions, especially when all sources of pollution demand intervention at the same time.

Among the other strong proponents of apportionment studies has been the National Green Tribunal (NGT). In its order in an ongoing case (O.A 681, 2018), the principle bench of the NGT emphasised the need for source apportionment studies in air quality management. While the tribunal’s position has been emphatic, its view on its role in pollution mitigation is not clear. For example, in an order dated August 21, 2020, in the ongoing suo motu case on implementing the NCAP, the tribunal has made the following observation:

“Depending upon assessed carrying capacity and source apportionment, the authorities may consider the need for regulating number of vehicles and their parking and plying, population density, extent of construction and construction activities etc. Guidelines may accordingly be framed to regulate vehicles and industries in non-attainment cities in terms of carrying capacity assessment and source apportionment.”

The tribunals’ observation offers no clarity on how a source apportionment study could add value to an action plan. For example, regulating vehicle density, parking and construction activities has been part of urban planning agendas of various cities for decades. The failure to regulate them is not due to the lack of knowledge of their contributions to air pollution but due to persistent sociopolitical factors.

Despite this, non-attainment cities across the country continue to carry out (often) expensive apportionment studies. According to a compliance report the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) submitted to the tribunal, source apportionment studies have been completed in four states (and five cities); is under progress in 14 States (54 cities); and in the proposal stage in 10 states (37 cities). The environment ministry’s financial allocation in FY 2020-2021 for pollution control, which includes allocation to meet the NCAP agenda’s action points, is Rs 460 crore. At Rs 80 lakh per study (according to information the CPCB provided to an RTI application), the cumulative cost of carrying out studies in all 122 non-attainment cities is Rs 97.6 crore – nearly 20% of the NCAP budget.

History of source apportionment

A man stands on a hill as smoke emits from a chimney of a leather tannery at an industrial area in Kanpur, May 4, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Before dwelling on the efficacy of source apportionment studies in pollution mitigation, it’s important to understand how the apportionment science became essential to environmental decision-making. The environment ministry says in its report: “… current knowledge on the urban sources provide a basis to initiate action in the different sectors, though city-specific source apportionment studies are needed to refine air quality management plans for the city”. It says nothing more to link source apportionment to pollution mitigation.

Among the countries in the Indian subcontinent, India has carried out the greatest number of studies to date, including of spatiotemporal variations, characterisation and apportionment of particulate matter sources.

The most comprehensive series of source apportionment studies were carried out between 2007 and 2010, for Delhi, Chennai, Kanpur, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune. institutions like the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi and IIT Madras conducted them. Eventually, they paved the way to include source apportionment science in mitigation programmes. And since then, niche researchers and experts have promoted source apportionment science as a precursor to mitigation action and as an important tool to inform policy.

However, its contribution to either has been suspect.

This author reviewed around 73 source apportionment studies carried out from 2001 to 2017, by various academic institutions. A quick analysis suggests that sources that contribute to poor urban air-quality have remained constant over the last four decades – and so have the associated recommendations. No change.

Gap between science and policy

A hazy morning in Mumbai. Photo: Balaji Srinivasan/Pexels

A study conducted in Mumbai in 1982, entitled ‘Level of Air Pollution in Bombay’ and published in the Indian Journal of Environmental Protection (by Rashmi Mayur) makes the following recommendations with regard to the transport sector (quoted verbatim):

1. Since automobiles are the major culprit … the urgent task is to reduce the number of cars and their movement in the city. It should not be difficult to provide an efficient public transport system.

2. Recognising that there are many old cars on the road, contributing to the problem of pollution, all efforts should be made either to remove them or to assure their performance at a given standard.

3. There should be proper synchronisation of traffic signals in order that flow can be assured during peak hours.

4. It was observed that one factor influencing the flow of traffic was parking on the thoroughfare sometimes illegally. If pollution in this area … is to be controlled, traffic regulations must be strict and should be implemented.

Four decades later, in 2011, the CPCB compiled the National Summary Report on emission monitoring and source apportionment. It makes the following recommendations as the “way forward” for the transportation sector (quoted verbatim):

1. Improvement of fuel quality and vehicle exhaust norms – roadmap beyond 2010 for progressive implementation of BS IV/V norms.

2. Old vehicles – retrofitment of pollution control devices, scrap policy, inspection & maintenance issues, etc.

3. Use of IT in traffic management, guidelines for minimising/synchronisation traffic signals, providing adequate parking, parking fee structure, etc.

Note that barring the sophistication of language, there is little new that the CPCB report has to offer compared to the 1982. The rest of the recommendations only focus on technical aspects emphasising the prowess of monitoring science, advancing more research on source apportionment, developing emission inventories, etc.

Another comparison of source apportionment studies in five cities highlights their limitations vis-à-vis articulating solutions. The sources and their targeted interventions are similar across cities, with little clarity on achieving these targets.

Delhi 2018

– Strict implementation of BS VI norms

– Improvement and strengthening of inspection and maintenance system

– Penetration of electric and hybrid vehicles

– Traffic congestion management and synchronising of traffic signals

– Ban of 15 year and old private and 10 year old commercial vehicles

– Improving public transport as per the existing plan of the city

– Change to clean fuel (ethanol, biodiesel etc.)

Chennai 2017

– Adoption of BSV or VI norms to reduce the emissions from vehicular sources of NOx in particular

– Banning of 10 year old commercial vehicles and 15 year old private vehicles to reduce the emissions of NOx

– Improvement of public transport

Bangalore 2010

– Strengthening of Public transport system

– Ban on old vehicles (10 years+) in the city

– Installation of pollution control devices (DOC/DPF) in all pre-2010 diesel vehicles

– Introduction of hybrid vehicles/ electric vehicles

– Improve traffic flow

– Alternative fuels such as ethanol, bio-diesel

– Effective Inspection and maintenance regime for vehicles

Pune 2010

– Implementation of BS VI norms

– Electric and hybrid vehicles

– CNG-LPG and Hydrogen-CNG blend for commercial vehicles (alternate fuel)

– Synchronization of traffic signals

– Banning of 15 year old private vehicle and 10 year old commercial vehicles

– Improvement of public transport: % share

Mumbai 2010

– Implementation of BS VI norms

– Electric and Hybrid vehicles

– CNG/LPG, Ethanol blending (E10 — 10% blend) Bio-diesel (B5/ B10: 5–10% blend) – alternative fuels

– Synchronization of traffic signals

– Improvement of public transport: as per existing plan for the city

– Banning of 8 year old commercial vehicles and Banning of 15 year old private vehicle

Kanpur 2010

– Adoption of BS VI for all vehicles

– Banning of 15 year old private vehicles and 10 year old commercial vehicles

– Inspection and maintenance of vehicles

– Restricted vehicle movement ~50% only (traffic management)

– CNG/LPG for commercial vehicles

Reliability check

A hazy morning in Lucknow, November 2019. Photo: PTI

In addition to imposing a challenge on air-quality planners, these issues also question the reliability of source apportionment science as a policy-planning tool, and its ability to go beyond performing an exercise in academic inquisitiveness.

Source apportionment studies carried out by various agencies/researchers differ significantly in their findings. A comparative analysis by researchers at the Council for Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) concluded: “In comparing various emissions inventories of air pollutants for Delhi and the NCR, this study finds significant differences in their estimates of total pollutant load and, especially, sectoral emissions.”

For example, the study found significant variations in PM2.5 emissions across sectors: from 17.9% to 39.2% by transport, 2.3% to 28.9% by industries, 3.1% to 11.0% by power plants, 18.1% to 37.8% by road dust and 2.2% to 8.4% by construction.

Simply put, different source-apportionment approaches may lead to different conclusions (to support air quality-planning). These differences are a consequence of the intrinsic assumptions that underpin different methodologies and determine or limit their range of applicability.

No magic bullet

North Chennai Thermal Power Station, Ennore. Photo: Adarsh B. Pradeep

Experts working on air pollution have also expressed their frustration with an excessive reliance on source apportionment science to design mitigation strategies. In a country like India, with high pollution, a poor implementation framework and limited financial resources, source apportionment studies are an indulgence – a tactic to delay real action. Put differently, a source apportionment study is most effective to understand the achievements of a well implemented mitigation strategy, not to frame one.

The Indian policy ecosystem is replete with laws designed to guarantee its citizens the right to clean air and water. A detailed analysis of the policy landscape (prepared for this article) found that each target sector that a study assessed has dedicated rules, laws and guidelines to address its environmental impact. Some of them have been in place for decades but have failed to achieve their goals.

So let’s be clear: deteriorating air quality in the country is not due to a dearth of policies. In fact, the air quality discourse will benefit if we invest resources to honestly understand and address the implementation challenges facing the existing set of policies.

This said, the NCAP itself is not good policy. The CEEW and independent research group Urban Emissions undertook a comprehensive study of 102 city action-plans under the NCAP. They found that the plans lacked transboundary coordination, funding, clear targets and accountability.

Two questions automatically follow: Are the findings of source apportionment studies really influencing policy implementation? And does our knowledge of sector-specific contributions (e.g., 35% from transport, 22% from diesel generators, etc.) help when logic calls for simultaneous interventions?

It is therefore vital for policymakers and regulators to ask the following questions with regard to source apportionment:

1. How has source apportionment enhanced the implementation of existing laws and policies on air pollution?

2. Does the identification of pollution sources and the exact percentage of their contribution result in proportionate action?

3. Have previous source apportionment studies resulted in any positive action on the ground?

4. Can these resources be better used for mitigation measures?

There is no disputing the fact that source apportionment science is important in informing air quality management. However, they seem to be less significant as a policy-planning tool for countries like India, which have a fairly sound policy ecosystem but lack the implementation capacity. As this article has argued, researchers’ recommendations based on various source apportionment studies remain similar, and offer little value vis-à-vis policy outcomes.

Existing studies clearly show that multiple sources impact the air quality over India. We need to address them simultaneously, and not in consecutive fashion. Further, the state’s continued impoverishment of regulatory agencies does not align with the overall agenda it has outlined under ambitious programs like the NCAP. Instead of pursuing source apportionment exercises, Indian cities will be better off spending their finite resources on schemes to mitigate pollution.

Dharmesh Shah is a senior technical advisor at the Lawyers Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), New Delhi.

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India advances gasoline's ethanol blending target in push towards energy transition – S&P Global

India advances gasoline's ethanol blending target in push towards energy transition - S&P Global
Highlights

New Delhi aiming for 20% blending target by 2025

Renewable energy capacity grown more than 250% in 6-7 years

Looking to accelerate projects on green transport, EV city

India has brought forward its target of blending gasoline with 20% ethanol by five years, in its efforts to accelerate the push towards renewables and make the overall energy basket cleaner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

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Speaking on the occasion of the World Environment Day over the weekend, Modi said the country would now aim to achieve the target of 20% blending by 2025, instead of 2030, a move that will not only prepare the country for energy transition but also aim to support the livelihood of farmers in the country.

“The focus on ethanol is having a better impact on the environment as well as on the lives of farmers,” a government statement quoted Modi as saying.

He added that until 2014, on an average, only 1.5% of ethanol could be blended in India. But this has now reached about 8.5%, adding that the multifold increase had benefitted the sugarcane farmers of the country.

Modi said India has placed a lot of emphasis on building the necessary infrastructure for the production and purchase of ethanol in the country. The ethanol manufacturing units are mostly concentrated in four to five states where sugar production is high. And now, the government was speeding up the process of establishing food grain-based distilleries as well as setting up modern technology plants to make ethanol from agricultural waste.

“India is also aware of the challenges that are being faced due to climate change and is also working actively,” Modi said.

Renewable energy capacity growth

He said the country’s capacity for renewable energy had increased by more than 250% in the last six to seven years, making India one of the top five countries of the world in terms of installed renewable energy capacity. He added that capacity for solar energy had increased by about 15 times in the last six years.

India is working with a holistic approach through the National Clean Air Programme to curb air pollution. Modi said the work on waterways and multimodal connectivity would not only strengthen the mission of green transport, but also improve the logistics efficiency of the country.

Modi spoke about a project which is underway to develop Kevadiya in the western state of Gujarat as an electric vehicle city. He said necessary infrastructure is being made available so that only battery-based buses, two-wheelers and four-wheelers will run in Kevadiya in the future.

He also said that the government had identified 11 sectors which could potentially make good use of resources by recycling them using modern technology.

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