Turning Over a New Leaf
HOW NEW DELHI WENT FROM MOST POLLUTED TO ONE OF ASIA’S GREENEST CITIES
the start of 2016, India’s capital city implemented yet another breakthrough initiative in a push to lose the reputation of being Asia’s most polluted city. In addressing concerns that surround the issue of environmental pollution within India, the government has taken the stance that quick solutions are needed. As a result, over the last few years, New Delhi is fast becoming a city that has some of the most revolutionary greening initiatives.
Among the latest of these initiatives within the transport sector in the city is the selling of an eco-friendly alternative to diesel fuel, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) at a discounted rate during off-peak hours in and around the capital city.
India’s oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan has expressed that this discounted rate along with new traffic rules for vehicles running on diesel
fuel will help curb pollution as well as reduce the rush at gas stations during peak hours.
CNG factors prominently on the urban greening initiative for Delhi as the city’s entire public transport system, comprising 13,000 public buses and 55,000 auto-rickshaws already running on the eco-friendly gas. Alongside this are strict enforcements on private vehicles. In a 15-day test run in January, private cars were banned from the roads on alternate days following the odd and even numbers on the vehicle plates.
About 23% of Delhi’s vehicles run on diesel and these emit a significantly higher amount of toxic emissions as compared to petrol. In another step to curb this, the National Green Tribunal in India announced that no new diesel vehicles can be registered.
The vehicle restrictions came after a court ordered the Indian authorities to take the pollution problem in Delhi seriously as pollution levels were running into ten times above the safe limit as set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The progressive steps that Delhi has taken have paid off as it is now one of Asia’s highest ranking green cities, even as its city dwellers are encouraged to take on the low-carbon lifestyle. This is evident with the establishment of the The Rajiv Gandhi Renewable Energy Park, which is run entirely on solar energy as well, alongside initiatives that encourage city residents to use the Metro subway system and participate in recycling campaigns.
Delhi also scores incredibly well in its waste management as it has stringent recycling policies and studies show that its inhabitants generate one of the least waste generation per person among cities surveyed in Asia. ag
In 2014, New Delhi was declared by the World Health Organisation as the most polluted city in the world