Sunday, January 31, 2016

Indian Railways on the Move (IRCTC)

@ Times of India - In 2014-15, the IRCTC website saw over 18.3 crore tickets being booked from its e-ticketing portal. Starting mid-Feb, they will limit bookings to six per month per user account. Today, it is India's largest e-commerce players by revenue as filed with the Registrar of Companies. E-ticketing constitutes 55% of total reserved tickets on Indian Railways. IRCTC's total income for the financial year 2014-15 stood at Rs. 1,141 crore. This is inclusive of service charge for online ticket booking, sales of packaged water, Rail Neer, and license fees from catering vendors. In the same fiscal,the total amount earned from users in ticket fares stood at Rs 20,620 crore.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

US Researchers Estimate 10-13% Reduction in PM2.5 Concentrations During Odd/Even Program in Delhi

Moratily Due to Air Pollution in Delhi - 80 per day !!

The study, addressing Global Mortality from Ambient PM2.5, found that more than 45% of these premature deaths in Delhi could be avoided if the city met the national ambient air quality standard for PM2.5. In fact, if the city's air could be cleaned up to the safe standards set by the World Health Organization, as much as 85% these deaths could be avoided, the experts said. Read more @ Times of India

Across India, as many as 4 lakh premature deaths per year could be prevented if the WHO standards were met. If no action is taken to bring down the current PM2.5 levels, deaths from air pollution would increase by 20% to 30% in India, the study warned.

Scientists arrived at the potential to prevent premature deaths in Delhi assuming that the annual mean PM2.5 level in Delhi was about 150 micrograms per cubic metre, about four times the national standard and 15 times the WHO guideline. The study is authored by Joshua S Apte from the University of Texas, Julian D Marshall from the University of Minnesota, Aaron J Cohen from Health Effects Institute and Michael Brauer from University of British Columbia.

Access the journal article @ Environmental Science & Technology

Delhi Government Initiatives.... DTC Benefited from the Odd/Even Program

Delhi is Confronting Air Pollution and Health Problems

Sunday, January 24, 2016

CPCB Report Says, Trend during Odd/Even Policy in Delhi is Unclear

Wide fluctuations in concentrations of pollutants and lack of any clear trend during the much-discussed odd-even experiment suggests that no single action can substantially reduce air pollution levels in the capital, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has said in a report.

Despite Hostile Weather, Odd/Even Program Cut Pollution in Delhi (CSE)

"With no clear trend and wide fluctuations observed in the concentrations, it is evident that meteorology and emissions from other polluting sources have been major factors impacting air quality of Delhi during the period," says the report that analyses air quality in Delhi before, during and after the odd-even experiment.

Analysis of Measurements from Odd/Even Experiment (by Indian Express)

Data for days preceding the odd-even scheme, from December 25 to 31, shows that PM 10 and PM 2.5 ranged between 142-453 micrograms/ m3 and 52-298 micrograms/ m3 respectively. During the January 1-15 odd-even period, PM10 and PM2.5 values were 161-629 micrograms/m3 and 79-507 microgram/m3. And in post-odd even January 16-21, the value for PM2.5 were 76-342 microgram/m3.

GAIL to Sell Fresh Air in Delhi

The lower end of PM2.5 values before the odd-even scheme is less than during and after phases while the higher end were also less at 298 and 342 microgram/m3, indicating the role of weather conditions and other pollutants. The highest observed level for PM2.5 during the odd-even period was 507 microgram/m3.

Selling Pollution Masks is the New Big Business in Delhi

The reduction of a certain number of cars on a daily basis would have reduced emissions but the difficulty in pinning down any change due to the odd-even scheme lies in the relatively smaller contribution of passenger cars and other sources. A recent IIT Kanpur study says one-third of Delhi's pollution is from outside the city while the weather also plays a crucial role .

On Air with AIB - Smelly Delhi

Read the full article @ Times of India

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Global Coal Trends Through 2020

Over the next five years, the global coal industry is expected to witness a fundamental structural change to the seaborne market: a move away from Chinese led demand growth. The last 10 yr have seen significant growth in the global seaborne market. But with global production seeming to have peaked in 2014, serious issues remain as to its sustainability.

The majority of global coal reserves are located in the US, followed by Russia, China, Australia, India and Germany, which collectively account for 76.9% of the global total. The major producers are China, the US, India, Australia, Indonesia and Russia, collectively accounting for 81.1% of global production in 2014. Logically, this means that a country, such as Indonesia, is rather rapidly depleting its reserves. Over the forecast period, these rankings will remain the same, with little movement in position, as had happened with the rapid rise of Indonesia over the previous decade when production increased from 154 million t in 2005 to 458 million t in 2014. Other developed countries, such as Australia and the US, may never find an economic need to exploit their reserves.

For the two largest consumers of coal, China and the US, serious efforts are now being made to curtail coal use, which contributed to global consumption decreasing in 2014. Consumption in 2014 fell by 62 million t compared to 2013, and it will likely decrease again in 2015. This would be the first fall in consecutive years in recent history. Efforts to curtail consumption include increased environmental protection regulations and the US government’s plans to decrease overall coal consumption by 180.4 million t and by 2.2% in electricity generation in 2015 over 2014. The Chinese government has also initiated an ambitious campaign to diversify its energy sources, consolidate its coal mines and cap consumption, announcing various coal quality restrictions and a ban on new developments of coal-fired plants.

Read the full article @ World Coal

Air Pollution in Macedonia

Thousands of people protested in front of Macedonia's government building on December 28, 2015, demanding new measures to alleviate the country's suffocating air pollution. The first speaker to address the crowd was Gorjan Jovanovski, a developer of the Web-based and Android application “Moj Vozduh” (My Air), which uses open data to display levels of air pollution throughout Macedonia.

High pollution levels have been plaguing Macedonia for years, especially the cities ofSkopje and Tetovo, which are among Europe's most polluted areas. In 2012, Global Voices reported on activists’ efforts to make the results of air-quality monitoring more visible, following a decision by the nation's authorities to stop publishing the data online.

In December 2015, Macedonia's government continued to ignore demands to take new measures against air pollution, leading to protests by environmental associations and their supporters. After a mass demonstraton in Tetovo, citizens organized under the motto “We can’t breathe,” later holding a mass protest in Skopje, as well.

Read the full article

Selling Pollution Masks is the New Big Business in Delhi

Businessman Jai Dhar Gupta has begun selling pollution masks last year in India and may buy stake in the US firm that owns rights to the products. Murky air means money for New Delhi businessman Jai Dhar Gupta.

The 43-year-old Wharton graduate began selling pollution masks last year in India, home to some of the planet’s most toxic cities. Gupta reckons he’ll sell 70,000 from January to March—as much as the whole of 2015—and may buy an equity stake in the US company that owns the rights to the products.

Real time air quality and air quality index in Delhi

“India is going to be the biggest market for the masks,” he said in an 11 January interview, adding he plans to manufacture and export them from India. Gupta wants to expand into products such as in-car air purifiers and is targeting $30 million in total sales for his company, Nirvana India Pvt. Ltd, by March 2017.

From masks to purifiers and even nebulizers that ease lung spasms, India is seeing a spurt in purchases of products designed to deliver a basic human right: the ability to breathe. Sales of filters that trap tiny, harmful airborne particles surged in 2015 on top online retailers Flipkart and Nebulizer makers expect annual growth of as much as 30%.

Pollution readings in New Delhi over winter rivaled those in Beijing, the poster child for dirty air. Measurements byBloomberg News sometimes reached as much as 45 times the World Health Organization’s safe limit for PM2.5 particles, which can penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.

Read the full article @ Live Mint

Despite Hostile Weather, Odd/Even Program Cut Pollution in Delhi

CSE Press Release - Delhi has lost the air quality gains of odd and even scheme. Delayed winter will make pollution worse if quicker steps are not taken to sustain the gains and delayed winter will make pollution worse if quicker steps are not taken to sustain the gains.

Today’s Supreme Court ruling on public transport and all other key pollution sources can help gather momentum and meet clean air targets 
  1. New analysis by CSE shows air pollution is back with a vengeance. The first three working days after the completion of odd and even scheme have seen rapid worsening of air quality – more than 57 per cent jump in PM2.5 levels on the first working day, and have stayed elevated at severe levels
  2. Without the moderating influence of emergency action, pollution levels are building up more rapidly. The odd and even scheme has proved that the city needs curbs on high traffic volume to pull down peaking of pollution, reduce congestion that further increase emissions, and cut direct exposure to toxic vehicular fumes. Delhi government should expedite action for more systemic solutions 
  3. A series of directives from the Supreme Court today set the terms for pollution control in the entire National Capital Region of Delhi – advancement of Euro VI emissions standards, augmentation of public transport, notice on closure of Badarpur power plant and stronger action on waste burning, construction dust and road dust
Read the full article @ CSE Press Release section

News coverage @ Times of India

Thursday, January 21, 2016

PM2.5 Data Available for 29% of the Time in Delhi

The backbone of Delhi’s air quality monitoring network is its set of 21 ambient air monitoring stations, 11 of which have data that are accessible to the public. The city’s main air pollution concern is PM2.5, suspended particles small enough to be trapped in the lungs. PM2.5 has been shown to cause lung cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, asthma, and a host of other health problems.

More @ Business Standard

Data obtained from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) website for the 11 monitors run by the CPCB and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) show that PM2.5 was being recorded only 29% of the time at these sites last winter–the season associated with the most severe levels of particulate pollution. Coverage since March 2015 has increased to 46%, but these gaps in the data make it difficult to reliably characterise the actual air quality situation in the city. Continuing the trend of improvement in coverage should be a high priority.

Coverage patterns show that monitor downtime tends to be concentrated in long stretches, when PM2.5 is not being collected for several months. This could be due to maintenance issues that are not detected or acted upon in a timely manner, pointing to problems with information flows and management within the organisations running the monitors. Paradoxically, these large gaps in data collection may be easier for the CPCB and DPCC to address than if monitors went down more frequently and for shorter periods. Making air pollution monitoring data easier for the public to access would be a good step toward creating the accountability that could help these organisations keep the city’s monitors functioning.

For the quality of air to improve, the quality of information must first rise. With even a rough idea of source apportionment, the government can take actions like shutting down dirty power plants and pushing neighbouring states to better regulate crop-burning. Once the low-hanging fruit is picked, policymakers will need increasingly detailed information on location, source, and type of air pollution to design a smart policy response. Now is the time to get the information systems in place that will inform the next decade of environmental policy in the city, and beyond.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Launches System of Aerosol Monitoring and Research (SAMAR)

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Friday launched a System of Aerosol Monitoring and Research (SAMAR) which will help the country in studying concentration of black carbon in atmosphere due to air pollution and its impact on climate. Aerosols are a subset of air pollution that contains gases, fumes and dust in harmful proportion. Aerosols particles can be both solid and liquid which also affects environmental visibility.

The SAMAR, equipped with many sophisticated equipments including 12 sky radiometers, will study aerosols' different properties and determine how it impact the climate over a longer period of time. At present, country has to depend on other countries' research for this purpose. The system was launched by the Union science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan on the IMD's 141st foundation day on Friday. He also launched a new user-friendly website of the country's central weather forecaster on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, the minister congratulated the meteorological department officials for the timely dissemination of critical weather-related information to 1.15 crore farmers through SMS and agriculture-portal in 2015, saying the efforts had gone a long way in reducing the devastating impact of the erratic rainfall on the Kharif crops. The IMD chief L S Rathore noted on the central weather department's predictions on the below-average south-west monsoons helped the farmers adopt short term crops and reduce the negative outcomes last year. The IMD, at present, provides city weather forecast for 324 stations and tourism forecast for 106 stations across the country.

India to Add 8-12 Coal Based Ultra Power Plants Worth 30-40GW

The government plans to bid out eight to 12 ultra mega power projects of generation capacity 4,000 MW each in two-and-a-half years, Power Minister Piyush Goyal said today. “The government is working on 12 UMPPs. We will be bidding out anywhere between 8-12 UMPPs in another two or two and a half years depending on the support we get from the state governments,” Goyal said here.

Goyal also exuded confidence that in the next three to six months at least four ultra mega power projects would be bid out. “We are trying to move these UMPPs in plug and play mode so that the investors have minimum problem,” he said at the India Japan strategic dialogue being held here under the aegis of industry chamber CII. The minister said that government has already approved one set of documents related to the fresh UMPP bids and another set of UMPPs is under finalisation.

GAIL to Sell Fresh Air in Delhi

Given the needs of the pollution-stricken countries, bottled fresh air is being sold in China, America and Middle-East countries. Recently, Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) started a campaign to sell fresh air in Delhi. It is worth giving a thought that can bottled fresh air be effective in India?

Change the water, change the air, change this atmosphere, yes, if you want to live change the philosophy of life... In a hospital, when a patient has difficulty in breathing, he is provided with oxygen cylinders and fresh air is pumped into his lungs. Just imagine, if this fresh air starts getting sold, how will you feel? Yes, a situation just like this was observed in Delhi.

In the heart of Delhi, Connaught Place and India Gate, some young people were seen selling packaged fresh air from the mountains. The price of this ranged from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 2000. However, the purpose of this was not just to make people realise the importance of fresh air but also the price of fresh air. This was being run with the help of GAIL. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Air Quality Worsening in Goa !!

Air quality in Goa has been deteriorating alarmingly as pollution levels have spiked two times higher than the normal in Vasco and Panaji, which have become the most polluted cities followed by Margao and Mapusa.

According to ambient air quality data from the Goa State Pollution Control Board, the respirable particulate matter (also PM10), which directly affects breathing, has gone up by over two times from the national ambiance air quality standard. In 2014-15, PM10 was recorded in Panaji and Vasco at 65-75 microgram per cubic metre: the prescribed standard is 100mpcm but desirable is 60 mpcm. PM2.5, for which the prescribed standard is 60mpcm and desirable 40mpcm, also touched an alarming high at 120-141mpcm last year in these heavily polluted cities and towns of the state.
As per the monitoring report prepared by the GSPCB, the main air pollutants for Margao and Vasco emanate from construction and demolition activities followed by road dust – and not due to vehicle emissions – resulting in rise of particulate matter (10 micrometres) in size beyond the desirable limit of 60mpcm. Vehicle emissions and burning of waste in open are the main cause of air pollution in Panaji as a result PM 2.5 has exceeded three times in the last two years.

Delhi Emissions Inventory - Estimated Road Dust Emissions with a Diurnal Cycle

Delhi Emissions Inventory - Estimated On-road Emissions with a Diurnal Cycle

Estimated On-Road Emissions Over India with a Diurnal Cycle

On Air with AIB - Smelly Delhi

Tandoors and Waste Burning Contributing To Delhi's Air Pollution: IIT Kanpur Study

Simply Put - What's the Matter with Diesel in Delhi (and India)

10 Things to Know About Air Pollution in Delhi

Delhi's Odd/Even Plan Review (NDTV Interview)

Delhi Emissions Inventory - Coal and Gas Based Power Plants

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Dec-25-2015 to Jan-05-2016 - PM2.5 in Delhi

Even as Delhi government's counsel said the plan was essential to clean up the air for the next generation, a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said public transport was not adequate and asked the government why it was ignoring the difficulties bring faced by commuters. Calling the government's status report "vague", it demanded by Friday details on air pollution levels during the six days the plan has been in effect and sought to know the extent of pollution caused by taxis which have been kept out of the purview of the odd-even formula. Read more @ Times of India

Meteorology at this time of the year can be very tricky and possible that in spite of nearly 100,000 cars off the roads during the day time, we are not seeing a visible drop in the pollution levels. More on the role of the meteorology on air pollution, check this infograph.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

How Copenhagen Became A Cycling Paradise

Cars pollute and cause more accidents. So when deciding whether to invest in roads or bike lanes, Copenhagen calculates all of the social costs involved—and bikes win out. Article @ Fast Co-Exist

Copenhagen is known as a cyclist paradise, a place where the bike is treated equally, if not preferentially, to the car. There are long-running cultural reasons for this—the Danes are into bikes, period—but also more structural factors as well. One of those is how the city justifies its cycling investments relative to other modes of transport. In a new paper, Stefan Gössling from Lund University and Andy Choi from the University of Queensland take a look at Copenhagen's approach and argue that it explains how the city has built out so much dedicated cycling infrastructure, including miles of uninterrupted and separated bike lanes, and even dedicated bike tunnels, bridges, and traffic lights.

When the city decides on a cycling project, it compares the cost to that of a road for cars, and it includes not only the upfront amount, but also things like the cost of road accidents to society, the impact of car pollution on health, and the cost of carbon emitted to the atmosphere. After including these factors, it comes to a rather startling calculation. One kilometer driven by car costs society about 17 cents (15 euro cents), whereas society gains 18 cents (16 euro cents) for each kilometer cycled, the paper finds. That's because of factors like the health benefits of cycling and the avoided ill-effects of cars.

As well as costs and benefits to society, there are also personal costs and benefits, including the time lost or gained from taking a bike or car, and the impact of noise and pollution on quality of life. When these are included in the analysis, cars cost 57 cents per kilometer while bikes come in at 9 cents per kilometer, the paper finds.

Gössling says Copenhagen's costing approach helps illuminate cycling full advantages, as well as the value of good infrastructure in encouraging cycling among different social groups. "If we want people to cycle, then we have to change our approach towards urban infrastructure. Cyclists will only cycle [in large numbers] when they feel physically safe and when it's fast, which means they need to be physically separated from cars," he says.