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One car-free day won’t clean Delhi air: Environmentalists

One car-free day won’t clean Delhi air: Environmentalists
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A single car-free day in Delhi is a good gesture, but mere tokenism will not work, environmentalists feel. Simply keeping cars off roads for half a day won't matter in the fight against pollution – but stopping trucks and diesel vehicles would.

“Taking into consideration the emission numbers, a car-free day really would not make much difference to Delhi,” Kushagra Nandan, CEO of SunSource Energy, an organisation that works globally for sustainable development, environment and tapping of solar energy, said.

Apart from its 7.35 million vehicles – the highest for any Indian city – and 1,400 new vehicles getting added every day, some 39,000 commercial vehicles (buses, trucks, private goods carriers), mostly diesel-run, enter Delhi every day from nine locations, adding substantially to the already noxious mix that we breathe, a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study says.

“Without any restraint on the movement of these trucks, Delhi’s battle against toxic pollution cannot be won. Though light goods vehicles make up for 49 <g data-gr-id="22">per cent</g> of all commercial vehicles, the relative contribution of heavy trucks is much higher,” CSE Director General Sunita Narain said in the study.

The debate also comes at a time when the Supreme Court indicated that it will impose an environment compensatory charge (ECC) ranging from Rs 700 to Rs 1,300 on commercial vehicles transiting Delhi for their onward journey.

Environmentalists say this will not be a complete solution to the problem but will certainly deter commercial trucks from entering the city. 

According to the "Emission Factor development for Indian Vehicles" study by the Automotive Research Association of India in 2008, the emission by a truck or a diesel bus could produce nitrous oxide gases as high as 15.25 units, as compared to a petrol-run car that produces only 0.21 units.

The national Capital is also infamous for having the worst quality of air in the world, according to a WHO report.
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