Do cars pollute New Delhi ?

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Sunset in Delhi. Source: wikimedia.com

Introduction

It is a fact. New Delhi suffers from pollution. From the top floor of the tallest skyscraper, one can see only as far as the fog  allows. And the city is one of the most populous in the world, competing with Tokyo and Shanghai. With a population of 24 million and growing, New Delhi is facing the issues  raised by urbanization much earlier than European or American towns.

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Traffic jam in Delhi. Source: flickr.com

The Delhi experiment

The authorities are concerned by the alarming level of pollution. Every experiment is good if it serves to acquire new knowledge.

When highways with at least 5 lanes are jammed for most of the weekdays, cars slow down. No need to be rocket scientist to know that engines consume most fuel at low speed and every liter or gallon of petrol pollutes according to the laws of physics.

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Pollution check points in Delhi. Source: wikimedia.com

The lifespan of the pollution

The good news is that the fog is not eternal. It dissipates in thin air and if not sustained, it will disappear in several days. The problem is that every day, millions and millions of cars are emitting those dangerous particles. This leads to the question: can we reduce pollution by limiting or decreasing the number of cars ?

The experiment

For several weeks, the municipalities of Delhi have restricted the cars, following an alternating pattern based on the car plates. In other words, they reduced by half the pollution caused by cars. Or so it seems. The results are not yet conclusive,  because there are other factors contributing to the pollution, like the production of energy and the industry. And people must commute more often, which leads to other problems. Maybe the new subway lines under construction will help substitute the polluting own cars with low emission transportation.

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