That diesel emissions are harmful and toxic is an old story. But even after 20 year of global action to clean diesel up, it is still throwing up new and more difficult challenges; and that is an unfolding story.
Says it misleads policy action on emissions standards and technology roadmap for CNG and diesel buses in India
I write this column from my bed, recovering from an accident that broke my bones. I was hit by a speeding car when cycling. The car fled the scene, leaving me bleeding on the road. This is what happens again and again, in every city of our country, on every road as we plan without care for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. These are the invisible users. They die doing nothing more than the most ordinary thing like crossing a road. I was more fortunate. Two cars stopped, strangers helped me and took me to hospital. I got treatment. I will be back fighting fit.
Natural gas as fuel has environmental benefits, particularly when compared to burning coal for power generation or using diesel for vehicles. So when the government increases—in fact, doubles—the price of domestically produced natural gas it has far-reaching implications for air quality and public health. But these benefits do not matter at all in the price-benefit calculations.
Losing after winning is the worst feeling possible. This is how I feel looking out of my window at a thick pall of black smog engulfing my city. It was this time of the year, exactly 15 years ago, when Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) began its right-to-clean-air campaign. The air in Delhi was so foul one could hardly breathe. That was a time when air pollution was an unknown curse. Not much was known about its nature and the toxicity of the air contaminants.
Two monopolies. One private and the other public; one in gas and one in coal. Both equally disastrous for the environment. I speak here of Reliance Industries Ltd and Coal India Ltd.
It is easy to take credit for success but not ownership for the problem. It is even easier if a small whiff of success allows you to wish away the problem altogether. Not more determined to solve it. The Assembly polls are only a fortnight away in Delhi. All political parties have pitched their battle cry to a crescendo. But there is not even a whisper on future action on air pollution. The political perception is that air pollution is under control. Illogical but true -- some action can breed more inaction!
What’s going on? First the key partners of the Central Pollution Control Board -- IOC, and NEERI -- involved with yet to be released source apportionment study made claims publicly that LPG is the most polluting fuel in our cities. Now in quick succession a second study follows from CPCB that ranks CNG as the “worst” fuel and Euro II-III diesel as the “best”. No other government in the world has every branded CNG as worse than Euro II-III diesel.
On April 1, 2001, there was mayhem in Delhi. Not many buses were plying on the roads as the Supreme Court ruling on moving the entire public transport fleet to CNG, came into effect.