Saturday, January 16, 2010

Estimated Air Pollution & Health Benefits of Metro System in Delhi

Air pollution due to all the sources takes a toll on health impacts. A monitoring experiment across the Delhi streets in October, 2009, covering ~160km in 10 hours, presents an interpolated spatial map of pollution. The study also estimates ~10,900 premature deaths annually due to the ambient PM pollution levels currently experienced in Delhi.

The impact of air pollution on the human health and the ecosystem is increasingly been linked to the growing transport sector. The emphasis is on the public transport (see urban passenger travel statistics in India). The JNNURM funds for buses and urban transport strategy of India are promoting the need for infrastructure for new buses (manufactured by Tata and Ashok Leyland). A good public transport system is expected to help reduce the congestion levels, energy demand in the transport sector, and the interlinked air pollution.

A major intervention that Delhi is counting on is the extension of the metro rail system14, to shift the motorized transport trends to the metro rail. The expected level of shift is uncertain, which depends on a number of factors. An analysis from 2008 estimated a possible reduction of at least 7 percent in the criteria pollutant emissions in 2010, by the introduction of expanded metro rail system in Delhi, India.

The SIM-air Working Paper No.32 aims to answer three questions: What are the health impacts of the current traffic patterns? What is the possible reduction in PM pollution in Delhi due to a possible shift in travel patterns? And what are the health benefits?

Six scenarios were evaluated for a mix of expected shifts in the travel patterns in Delhi and the estimated health benefits are listed below. See the full report for details.

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