The GIRD was in the forefront of action against the dangerous levels of air pollution experienced by the people of Delhi. Our successful campaigns highlighting the ill-effects of the rising air pollution, caused mainly by the ever increasing numbers of vehicles on Delhi roads, for the health of the people, such as increasing respiratory illnesses, children being rendered asthmatic, people becoming prone to heart diseases and cancers, led to the historic directions of the Supreme Court to the Government to take steps to control poisonous vehicular emissions in Delhi.
Prodded by these directions, the Government at last took measures to control air pollution such as:
- Lowering of sulpher content in diesel,
- Ensuring supply of only lead-free petrol
- Requiring the fitting of catalytic converters in vehicles
- Phasing out of highly polluting old vehicles
- Enforcing Euro-II standards for petrol and diesel vehicles, and
- importantly, conversion of public transport into CNG mode
As a result air pollution levels in Delhi came down drastically from the alarming levels of the late 1990s. Delhi won the US Department of Energy’s first “Clean Cities International Partner of the Year” award for “bold efforts to curb air pollution and support alternative fuel activities.”
GIRD made assessment of ambient air quality in Delhi in the post-CNG introduction period through organizing a National Seminar on “Vehicular Pollution in Delhi after the Court’s Directions: An Assessment” on February 26, 2008 held at Delhi Engineering College.
The Seminar came up with following policy guidelines and action programmes for further improvement of air quality in Delhi which could be adopted also in other major cities of India:
- Introduction of eco-friendly fuels like bio-diesel, solar energy and batter-driven vehicles.
- Measures for controlling numbers of vehicles on roads like increase in parking charges in places which are more prone to vehicular congestion and air pollution.
- Active promotion of car-pooling
- Introduction of pay and drive schemes at major points
- Improvement of public transport system
- Addressing the issue of noise pollution
- Future urban planning should be undertaken in such a way that highways and city main roads are away from residential areas
- The Government should plan for urgent measures for making Delhi a model city in respect of air quality and quality of life as indicated by healthy environment in all respects. The opportunity provided by the hosting of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 should act as a catalyst and inspiration.