Saturday, November 26, 2016

CPCB - Hike Parking Fees 4 times if Air Quality Severe

The Central Pollution Control Board has recommended to the Supreme Court that parking fee in Delhi/NCR be hiked 3-4 times when air quality is in the "severe" or "very poor" category between October and February. For "severe" and "very poor" levels in the winter months, CPCB has recommended 17 action points. The same interventions will be taken up if the air quality is "severe" or "very poor" between March and May.

Besides suggesting that RWAs provide electric heaters to security guards to avoid open burning of waste or biomass, CPCB also called for a complete ban on fireworks and impounding of visibly polluting vehicles. These recommendations were part of CPCB's "graded-responsibility action plan" submitted to the SC on Friday to tackle air pollution. It also said that, as a special measure, a task force on air pollution could recommend additional measures, such as closure of schools, along with other action points depending on the severity of levels.

CPCB recommended that a task force be constituted with representatives from CPCB, ministry of environment and forests, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Indian Meteorological Department and health experts who will oversee the implementation of this graded responsibility plan. CPCB also mentioned agencies responsible for enforcing these action points. For example, the municipal commissioners of Delhi and NCR will be responsible for hiking the parking fee when the air quality worsens, while DPCC and other NCR state pollution control boards will communicate air pollution levels and alerts through newspapers and TV.

Read the full article @ Times of India

Read our commentary on taking the long view of air pollution in Delhi

India Added 14.3 GW of renewable Capacity in the Last Two Years

According to the Indian Ministry for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, a total of 14,3 GW of renewable power capacity was installed over the last two and half year, including 5.8 GW of solar, 7.04 GW from wind, 530 MW from small-hydropower and 930 MW from biomass-fired power.

The Grid Interactive Renewable Power initiative aims to reach 175 GW by 2022. India aims to accelerate the development of renewable capacities over the next three years, planning to add 16,725 MW in the current fiscal year (April 2016-March 2017), 20,450 MW in 2017-2018 and 22,150 MW. The bulk of these capacities additions should come from solar (12 GW in 2016-2017, then 15 GW and 16 GW in 2018-2019) and wind to a lesser extent (4 GW in 2016-2017, 4.6 GW in 2017-2018 and 5.2 GW in 2018-2019). India plans to add 2.1 GW of biomass-fired capacity (500 MW, then 750 MW and finally 850 MW in 2018-2019) and 425 MW of small hydro (225 MW in 2016-2017 and then 100 MW per year).

In order to achieve the targets, the Indian government has taken various measures, such as amendments in the Tariff Policy for strong enforcement of Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) and for providing Renewable Generation Obligation (RGO) or incorporating measures in Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) for encouraging distribution companies and making net-metering compulsory.

Read the full article @ EnerDATA

Saturday, November 12, 2016

India Wavering on Delaying Emission Standards for Power Plants


India may ease a deadline to cut pollution from coal-fired power plants blamed for causing the world’s worst air quality amid pressure from generators who say it’s too difficult to implement the $37 billion reforms. The deadline to meet all the new standards may be pushed back beyond the original December 2017 target, said S.D. Dubey, chairman of the Central Electricity Authority and head of the panel drafting the road map for power producers to meet the new guidelines. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government proposed the limits on toxic emissions in December 2015.

The delay highlights the challenge facing Modi’s administration to provide cleaner air alongside affordable and reliable power to all of the country’s 1.3 billion people. The new goals may be implemented “in a phased manner,” Dubey said in a phone interview. “Particulate matter emissions should be addressed in the first phase. The next step would be sulfur dioxide emissions and later on oxides of nitrogen. That’s the direction we are moving in.” The office of Federal Environment Secretary A.N. Jha, whose ministry originally proposed the standards, didn’t respond to e-mails seeking comment.

India’s 187 gigawatts of coal-fired power capacity, which generate more than 75 percent of the nation’s electricity, contribute to the air pollution that makes India home to what the World Health Organization has determined are 11 of the top 20 cities on the planet with the worst air quality. The plants account for 61 percent of its generation capacity, according to the Central Electricity Authority. India must first establish monitoring systems at all plants to establish an emissions baseline, determine what technologies will be appropriate and then install them at the plants, said Leslie Sloss, an analyst with the IEA Clean Coal Centre, a technology cooperation program of the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

Read the full article @ Bloomberg

Read more on power plants in India @ Urban Emissions

Coal India Taking Advantage of 60% Rise in Global Coal Prices

Armed with a product mix of high and low energy coal, Coal India (CIL) is all set to take advantage of a 60 per cent rise in international coal prices this year and has started targeting coastal power companies’ that heavily depend on imported coal. Many coastal plants source a mix of high and low energy coal. In most cases the high energy coal is sourced from the import market while low grade coal is either sourced from CIL or from the import market.

“For companies that have supply contract with CIL, the company is ready to send them both varieties of coal from different subsidiaries of CIL like Eastern Coalfields, South Eastern Coalfields and Western Coalfields, to some extent. For companies that do not have supply contracts from us, we are offering forward and spot e-auctions from subsidiaries that offer high grade coal as well as those offer low grade coal,” he said.

With international prices rising steadily distribution companies, independent power producers with non-escalable fuel cost, merchant power producers and ports relying on imported coal for the bulk of their volumes will face volume and profitability pressures in case they do not cash in on the opportunity offered by CIL.

Read the full report @ Economic Times Energy World

Coal Price Fever Chills Power Plants in China

North China has been caught by sudden cold snap with temperatures already sub-zero, but local power plants have been feeling the chill for a long time as soaring coal prices stripped their profits away.

China's five largest power companies saw their combined coal-fired business lose 300 million yuan ($45 million) in September, the first group loss since August 2012. GD Power Development saw revenue shrink in the first nine months, with net profits down about four percent in the third quarter year on year. Shanghai Electric Power saw its Q3 profit fall by 10.3 percent. "The high coal price is eating away our profit and there are worries that a short-term shortage might push the price higher," said Liu Shenghan, sales manager of a power company in Shanxi Province, where 30 of 52 coal-fired power plants made losses in the first nine months.

The Bohai-Rim Steam-Coal Price Index, a gauge of coal prices in northern China's major ports, rose to 593 yuan per tonne last week, the 17th consecutive rise and about 60 percent up on the start of the year. On one hand, the country is cutting excess coal capacity, while on the other, coal prices are edging up. Once synonymous with excess capacity, coal sector is staging a comeback. It is not rare to see trucks waiting in line at coal mines to be loaded, with similar scenes in ports. Winter is coming, and the coal shortage follows rapid price increases in the past few weeks. The government is in the midst of cutting inefficient production; demand is increasing as the economy stabilizes; and hydroelectric generation is falling as the rainy season ends. Policymakers face a delicate balancing act and it should be emphasized that the reasons for cutting coal capacity are not exclusively economic; environmental factors play a huge part in current policy.

Read the full report @ Energy Central

Friday, November 11, 2016

Air Quality in Jaipur (Rajasthan) (Forecasts Updated Everyday)

This is modeled air quality and source apportionment for particulate matter, in forecast mode (for the next three days). The reports for all the 640 Indian districts everyday @ India Air Quality.Info







See what is happening at the regional scale, which is conducted as part of the all India air pollution forecasting program, hosted @ http://www.indiaairquality.info. The animation below is from a WRF-CAMx simulation conducted @ 0.25x0.25 degree resolution (approximately, 25km x 25km).

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tracking Pollution in Bengaluru

To understand rising air pollution and study its impact on public health, urban environment, and its causality, ‘Breathe Bengaluru’, a project for assessment of the city’s air quality, is currently being undertaken in BTM layout. Breathe Bengaluru is taking a bottom up, ‘people first’ approach to tackling air pollution, bringing in multi-disciplinary perspectives and public participatory mechanisms. It is a joint venture of 'Sensors without Borders' and ‘Sensing Local', both Bengaluru--based organisations working on environmental issues such as air and water pollution, waste management among others.

Sensors Without Borders, is a Karma Corps initiative that leverages commodity sensing technologies, devices and systems to collect high quality, bottom-up environmental data in the air and water domains to effect on-the-ground change. Sensing Local is a practice of architects and urban planners with a core focus on making cities healthier, safer and more inclusive. Researchers and experts working on traffic patterns, air quality, technology, urban planning and transport planning, as well as local communities that are an integral stakeholder, will come together under this project to provide suggestions, guidance and analysis of potential linkages between traffic emissions, air quality and health outcomes. -

Read more @ Citizen Matters

This is modeled air quality for India in forecast mode. The reports for all the 640 Indian districts everyday @ India Air Quality.Info







Don't Blame Farmers for Delhi's Air Pollution Problems



The spike in pollution levels in Delhi’s air is an annual winter ordeal, so is burning of paddy stubble by farmers in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana after the crop is harvested. But how much does burning of crop residues contribute to Delhi’s pollution peaks? There are no definite answers. About 80% of Delhi’s pollution is due to reasons that are restricted within the national capital’s limits, while the rest is due to crop burning, India’s environment minister Anil Madhav Dave said on Monday after a meeting with neighbouring states.

According to Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director at the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, no exact figure is available. “Stubble burning is an episodic problem which contributes to the pollution peaks in Delhi but even after the burning stops, in December, Delhi witnesses very high pollution,” she said, adding, “Delhi’s own pollution due to 8.8 million cars, constant construction activities and power plants are also major factors.” There are some other figures, too. Gufran Beig, programme director of System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) of the earth sciences ministry told the Times of India on Monday that the proportion of pollutants from crop fires in Delhi’s air rose dramatically from almost zero on 1 November to a peak of 70% on 6 November.

Read the full article @ Live Mint

Delhi is a Wakeup Call for World on Air Pollution - UNICEF


Delhi is a wake up call to the world on air pollution. It is a wake up call to all countries and cities where air pollution levels have resulted in death and illness amongst children. It is a wake up a call that very clearly tells us: unless decisive actions are taken to reduce air pollution, the events we are witnessing in Delhi over the past week are likely to be increasingly common.

Recent UNICEF analysis has shown that, globally, 300 million children live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution – exceeding six times international guidelines. However, there is much that can be done to improve the situation. We need stronger measures to cut back on the sources of air pollution. Air pollution moves across borders, both national ones as well as subnational ones, and so we will need coherent government policies to address these transboundary risks.  Providing children with access to good quality healthcare is a major part of protecting them from air pollution. Treatment and prevention programmes for pneumonia, as well as other respiratory conditions, can significantly reduce the chance a child falls sick or dies. At a global scale, we need better monitoring of air pollution. When a child, a mother, a father or caregiver know how bad the air is on a real-time basis, they can begin to take actions to reduce exposure. Pregnant mothers, and others who are at especially high risk, should do their best to avoid areas where air pollution is at its highest. Public knowledge on air pollution is a key first step to tackling it – it is key to supporting government policies to reduce it.

Read the full article @ UNICEF

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Wasting Water to Make Delhi's Roads Dust Free


At 5 pm, a water tanker with a capacity of 35,000 litres waited to clean the 3.5 km stretch along the Ghazipur drain. The PWD deployed 1,250 workers and 40 water tankers for cleaning and scrubbing of roads across Delhi. “We started by about 11 am and we hope to finish by 7 pm. All the roads and dividers have been cleaned on both sides,” said assistant engineer Naresh Kumar. “The cause of air pollution lies elsewhere. But when this cleaning of roads is carried out, it will make a difference at the ground level,” said a senior PWD official. A blue tanker with a capacity of 5,000 litres started cleaning the road from Shamnath Marg to Raj Niwas in north Delhi on Monday afternoon. PWD’s Executive Engineer Anil Trehan supervised workers spraying the footpath with water, while assistant engineer Vinod Garg took pictures.

Read the full article @ Indian Express

How Beijing is Cleaning the Air

China has launched a four-pronged strategy to clean up the air:
  1. 1The government commissioned a major study to determine causes of pollution. This showed smog was less from vehicles, more from coal plants, dust and crop-burning
  2. 2.All four coal plants in the vicinity of Beijing have been shut down. These will be relocated and replaced with higher tech, lower emitting factories
  3. 3November 2015 Plan to Phase Out Crop Burning: 85 per cent of the 900 metric tons of crop stalks will be collected and used by government programme by 2020 for biomass, fiber and pulp
  4. Regulating vehicles: Heavy trucks banned from city, registration of new cars limited every month and determined by a lottery. No odd-even ban as study found owners were buying new cars to evade the ban. Huge investment in expanding the already vast Beijing subway and BRT corridor.
Read the full article on Lessons for Delhi, from Beijing @ India Today

Monday, November 07, 2016

Linking Parking Fees to Air Quality Index !!

Upon the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT’s) order, the city banned the registration of diesel-engine-powered vehicles (for some time) and introduced an additional sales tax on diesel vehicles at the time of registration. Both the measures are applicable for newer vehicles only. The NGT also introduced an additional environmental tax for heavy-duty trucks entering the city; this does not include vehicles registered in Delhi and not crossing the border. The city also experimented with the odd-even concept (twice, for two weeks each time, with a number of exemptions) – which in turn is very dependent on a vigilant traffic police to be completely successful.

These measures were introduced and tested for one reason: to discourage the use of personal transport. However, one measure that could be applicable for old/new vehicles, petrol/diesel/gas engines and all engine sizes is the parking fee. Delhi has the lowest parking fees (often Rs 10-20 per hour) in the world. What if, the parking fees were increased tenfold – especially during the days of high air pollution? Take the malls, for example: every car parked there has to go through a toll booth and, without excuse, has to pay.

A fee-structure can be displayed outside the malls’ parking lots with that days’ air quality index (AQI). If the AQI is under 50 (green – very rare in Delhi), then parking is free. And as the AQI climbs, so does the fee. If the value is 500, then parking rate could just as well be Rs 500 per hour. Consider it a charge for spending time in the air-conditioned mall! Similarly, for those parking illegally, the towing fees should be increased further.

Read the full article - what it means to taking the long view on air pollution in Delhi

Smog Blankets 1/10th China

Severe pollution continues to haunt China with a spell of heavy smog enveloping the northeastern and northern parts of the country and affecting more than one-tenth of its land territory. The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said in a statement late yesterday that around 6.30 lakh square km of land in the northeastern China and 3.80 lakh square km in the northern China have been under the influence of the latest smog spell. Adverse meteorological conditions are to blame...

Read the full article @ Economic Times

Emergency Measures to Combat Air Pollution in Delhi

Officials in the Indian capital shut down schools, halted construction activity and closed a coal-fired power plant temporarily as alarm bells were sounded about the deadly haze of air pollution that has shrouded the city this past week. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Sunday schools will be shut for three days, all construction halted for five days and a power plant will be closed for ten days. He said roads will be doused with water to settle dust that is a huge contributor to the city’s toxic air.

Read the full article @ Voice of America

Well, a similar plan was proposed last year (December, 2015)

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Air Quality in Raipur (Forecasts, Updated Everyday)

This is modeled air quality for India in forecast mode. The reports for all the 640 Indian districts everyday @ India Air Quality.Info



See what is happening at the regional scale, which is conducted as part of the all India air pollution forecasting program, hosted @ http://www.indiaairquality.info. The animation below is from a WRF-CAMx simulation conducted @ 0.25x0.25 degree resolution (approximately, 25km x 25km).

Friday, November 04, 2016

Schools Closing in Delhi Due to Air Pollution


Several schools decided to remain closed on Friday, while some others cancelled physical education classes, outdoor activities and issued special advisories for students with respiratory disorders in view of the steep rise in pollution levels in the national capital region (NCR). The Shri Ram School (Delhi, Gurgaon and Greater Noida) will remain closed from Friday to Monday. The Heritage School, Vasant Kunj and Gurgaon, and Modern School, Vasant Vihar, will remain shut on Friday because of the high concentration of pollutants and smog in the air.

Shri Ram School authorities told parents in a message, “This is to inform you that on account of high pollution levels in the city, the school will remain closed on Friday, 4th November and Monday, 7th November 2016. To keep the children gainfully occupied at home, academic-related worksheets will be uploaded on academic resources on the parent portal.” Students of Classes X and XII, however, will have to attend school.

The Heritage School said the air indoors is cleaner and it was better to shut school till conditions improve. “As facts stand today, the outdoor PM 2.5 count in the school is 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre and the indoor air quality is between 700 and 900 micrograms per cubic metre. We’re probably the least affected, being in a far more open and less inhabited area, compared to the more interior parts of Gurgaon, which would be much worse,” said a message for parents sent by The Heritage School, Gurgaon.

Apart from closing down on Friday, the school has also proposed that there be no outdoor sports till the air quality improves. Ridge Valley School in Gurgaon has postponed a students’ trip to the Rail Museum as “air pollution has touched hazardous levels, in and around Delhi”. “We are not closing down the schools as it will be a problem for parents. We have already issued advisories for students and cancelled any outdoor activities in the morning hours,” said Ameeta Wattal, principal, Springdales School, Pusa Road.

Read the full article @ Indian Express

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Delhi Smog !!


A growing outcry has forced some improvements. The national government has agreed to speed the adoption of tougher vehicle emissions standards, making them mandatory by 2020. The Indian Supreme Court has been especially active, doubling the fees for commercial trucks entering Delhi and ordering the capital’s taxis to switch from highly polluting diesel to compressed natural gas. Bans on burning garbage and agricultural waste are in place, and fines are being levied for spreading construction dust. Yet many regulations are ignored or poorly enforced. Delhi’s government, which promised to buy another 2,000 clean buses for its fleet this year, has managed to add only four.

Read the full article @ Bloomberg

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

8 Common Myths About Air Pollution in Delhi That are Unlikely to Ever Contribute to a Long-Lasting Solution


From a commentary piece @ the Wire
  1. Awareness that Delhi is the most polluted city in India. The fact is that Delhi is the most studied and the most documented city on air pollution issues. Almost all the national as well as international agencies want to work in Delhi. The city has the most number of air-pollution monitors operated by multiple agencies, including the emerging non-regulatory low-cost monitors. So, with most coverage, it has obviously become known as the most polluted city in the country. If data from other cities can be as freely documented and disseminated at the same scale, this could be different.
  2. Most of Delhi’s pollution comes from outside Delhi. Somehow, that air pollution knows no administrative boundaries becomes suddenly applicable here and Delhiites become more willing to point fingers at their neighbours. This is partly true – particularly when there is a dust storm coming in from the Thar desert or the Middle East (common occurrences in April and May) and during the agricultural-clearing season in Punjab and Haryana (common occurrences in November). Other than that, everything is very much local. The media usually starts talking about air pollution in late October and November as the agricultural clearing peaks. For the same reasons, we simply assume all our pollution, all year long, comes from outside Delhi. 
  3. We need more studies to ascertain where the pollution is coming from. As a scientist, I agree, we need more studies – to enhance our understanding. However, we do know most of the sources to act now. Consider any 2-3-km-wide block in Delhi and you are likely to find residential cooking and heating, waste burning (it is banned only on paper), some form of industrial activity, diesel generators, vehicles and associated road dust, construction activities – all low-lying sources that contribute to local pollution.
  4. Transport is the biggest contributor to air pollution in the city. The Central Pollution Control Board released one report in 2010 that put transport contribution at under 20%. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee released one report in 2015 that put transport contribution at under 25%. Both were conducted by the same team, at IIT-Kanpur. This means up to 75% of the pollution is from non-transport sources. This is a classic case of “what we see is what we believe in”. We are stuck in traffic for a few hours a day, moving at 15 km/hr, with an engine under the hood that can go at 100 km/hr and we start blaming transport for all air pollution problems. Transportation’s contribution must be cut – but we shouldn’t be neglecting other contributions along the way.
  5. The odd-even pilot was good for mitigating air pollution. The average commute speeds in the city went up but no statistically significant change could be monitored for air quality. We missed the bus here: the goal is to cut the demand for personal transport, not target individuals with cars. Take Hong Kong or Singapore, example: both cities managed to cut down the demand for personal transport by setting up a very wide network of public transportation systems (road and rail), walkways and bikeways, and promoted them aggressively. They also have economic measures in place, such as higher vehicle sales and congestion taxes that further enabled the move from personal to public modes of transport. All this was possible only because the alternatives were in place – more buses and inter-connectivity via rail, walkways and bikeways. The odd-even policy was, and is, a good policy but for the level of infrastructure in Delhi, this will remain an experiment. If we want this move to be permanent, irrespective of whether someone owns a car/motorcycle or its registration number, we need a safe and clean infrastructure that will move people from point A to point B using rail, bus, bike and walk – and eliminate the need for personal transport. The Delhi Transport Corporation operates approximately 6,000 buses but the city could use at least 15,000.
  6. There is a silver bullet to control pollution. This is a long term game and history tells us that this fight was not easy – neither in the EU nor in the US. Today, countries like India and China are better placed in terms of there being examples to look up to, lessons to take home from the EU’s and USA’s experiences, and the technology to control pollution is far superior than what was available in the 1980s and 1990s. If anything, the challenge is now in convincing policymakers to learn from the past and act fast. In India, we are seeing changes in some sectors, such as new emission standards for coal-fired thermal power plants, accelerated introduction of cleaner fuel for the transportation sector, promotion of liquefied petroleum gas and incentives for better industrial efficiency. These are good global measures that will take some time to trickle down. But more importantly, the faster we act on implementing these developments, the faster we will move towards having cleaner air.
  7. Installing more monitors to control pollution. Measuring pollution is not controlling pollution. Nonetheless, official statements continue to claim this step of air quality management as a control strategy. Though we do need more data and nothing beats an informed decision, generating information is not controlling pollution.
  8. Pollution can be controlled with air filters. This is more like avoiding the problem and diverting attention away from the problem than solving it. Emissions should be controlled at the source. If you are in a room with one door, it makes perfect sense to filter the air; but what sense does it make if there are no walls altogether?
 Read the full commentary on this topic @ the Wire

Why Delhi's Plan for Air Filters at Traffic Intersections is a Red Herring

Imagine a sci-fi dystopia wherein the world’s pollution has breached all kinds of limits and people are walking around with glass jars and clean-air tanks on their backs; sitting in their offices or homes, where every cubic meter of air is filtered of all harmful pollutants; or even a big bubble covering a cricket stadium where the air is filtered for all to enjoy the game. All these scenarios have one thing in common – the volume of air under consideration is confined and under full control of the user or the operator. There is one inlet for air, through the filter, and the outlet is into the glass jar, the room or the stadium; not to a traffic intersection where the flow of air is not in anybody’s control.

Air pollution in cities is largely a symptom of insufficient urban planning, whether due to waste burning, traffic or industrial emissions. The only way to address it is through looking at the principal sources and finding ways to reduce pollution at their level. It takes planning, inter-agency cooperation, good governance and political will, so proposing solutions that only mitigate it at a small scale (like traffic intersections) are not, and will not be, sustainable. They are ineffective at best, and waste valuable resources that take away from working towards a constructive solution. If the government is at all concerned about reducing air pollution, it needs to plan ahead, well in advance, and not find salves that appear to be proactive on the eve of the pollution (i.e. winter) season. We already know that every winter, starting around Diwali, Delhi implodes with rising pollution affecting most of its 20 million residents. Let’s be prepared for it next time by doing something that actually reduces it at the source.

Read our full commentary @ the Wire

No Parking Space for New Buses in Delhi

The state government was to have inducted 3,000 buses by now to check air pollution in Delhi. But with the transport department pleading that there was no depot space available for any additional fleet, it is unlikely that public transport will have a role to play in improving air quality this winter.

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority recently notified the court that the DDA had identified 68 acres that could accommodate 1,100-1,600 buses. EPCA said, therefore, that non-availability of land for bus depots wasn't a concern any longer and that Delhi government could immediately acquire a thousand buses. The EPCA note was also sent to the LG, the chief minister and the transport minister.

Delhi will have a far lower number of buses this winter also because of the various procedural delays in acquiring new buses. As of now there are around 5,600 public transport buses when the capital is reckoned to need 11,000. To make things worse, there has been a steady decline in vehicle fleet since 2012-13, with many buses being retired due to age.

Read the full article @ Times of India