Nov 15, 2008

India - Heavy construction ahead of 2010 games make Delhi dimmer

Frenzied constructions ahead of the Commonwealth Games may be responsible for the Capital getting dimmer, smoggier, and unhealthier.

A recent study by the Central Pollution Control Board for Delhi reveals that despite the CNG conversion of commercial transport vehicles in the city, Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) and Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) - the major air pollutants - have gone up. The study echoes another one, just released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which warns that "cities from Beijing to New Delhi are getting darker".

"Man-made atmospheric brown clouds (is) being formed over 13 megacities in the world," the UN study reiterates.

And at least part of the problem in Delhi is particles raised by constructions, say experts from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. "SPM and RSPM are particles less than the size of 10 microns suspended in air. These are often ingested in human trachea (or windpipe)," a pollution control board members says.

"In Delhi, though, vehicular pollution is not responsible for the high RSPM and SPM. They are also, and now primarily, caused by the high level of construction in the city."

The CPCB report finds that RSPM has gone up by 21 per cent between 2000 and 2008: from 159 miligram per metre cube to 192 mg per metre cube. The UN report says: "Brown clouds (formed over Delhi) contain a variety of toxic aerosols, carcinogens and particles, including particulate matter of less than 2.5 microns in width."

The report warns that these pollutants are linked with several health hazards, including respiratory disease and cardio-vascular problems.

The UNEP report has also warned that the city is getting dimmer as the brown clouds block sunlight. The brown cloud over Asia, which stretches between Beijing and Delhi, can also thwart the monsoon because adequate sunlight may not reach the surface.

WARNING: DARK DAZE AHEAD RSPM IN DELHI AIR2006: 155 miligram per metre cube 2007: 169 miligram per metre cube2008: 192 miligram per metre cube72% decrease in sulphur dioxide and 50% decrease in carbon monoxide between 2000 and 2008, suggesting converting public transport to CNG has helped

'BROWN CLOUD' HOTPOTSBangkok, Beijing, Cairo, Dhaka, Karachi, Kolkata, Lagos, Mumbai, NEW DELHI, Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tehran

Soot levels found at 10% of total mass of all human-made particles in these megacities

(Source: UN Environment Programme report)

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