It isn't just Delhi that has become a gas chamber. The latest World Health Organisation report puts 13 Indian cities in the notorious list of 20 cities with most particulate (PM 2.5) pollution. It includes, Delhi, Patna, Gwalior, Raipur, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Firozabad, Kanpur, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Agra, Allahabad and Khanna. While Delhi leads the list, Patna is not far behind.
PM 2.5 stands for tiny particulate matter, 2.5 microns or smaller, linked with health hazards ranging from mild irritations in eye, nose and lungs to cardiovascular diseases and cancer. All credit to the odd-even formula that Indians are once again thinking about quality of air.
Where does PM 2.5 comes from?
There are several sources of PM 2.5 including dust on the shoulders of road, burning of household waste and crops in North India. But almost 50% PM 2.5 comes from exhaust of diesel vehicles - trucks, buses, SUVs and cars.
Euro emission norms set the benchmark emission norms for vehicle engines. The latest Euro norms are Euro 6. Bharat Stage (BS) is the Euro norms adopted for India.
India's adoption of BS norms is varied. While vehicles and fuel sold in Delhi has to be BS-4 (Euro 4) complaint, in other parts of India, these are Euro 3 compliant only.
The difference between Euro 3 and Euro 6 is stark. Limiting our focus on PM 2.5 emission norms for cars, Euro 3 permits PM 2.5 emissions of 100mg/km while Euro 6 standards are at 5mg/km. That is 20 times improvement.
For buses and trucks, the Euro 3 emission norms are 130 mg per kWh whilst Euro 6 norms are at 10 mg per kWh. Note the difference in the metric between cars and trucks. For cars it is mg per kilometre whereas for buses and trucks it is mg per kilo Watt per hour. That makes the metric incomparable.
Did I hear, games manufacturers play? If a truck carries 9 tonne, the emission is different from when the same truck carries 50 tonnes of stone chips between Kota and Chandigarh. That's why my friends see black fumes from loaded trucks and buses.
Why haven't we adopted Euro 6?
The stakeholders are car manufacturers, transporters, oil companies, government and intellectuals. It is a usual slugfest out there. Each lobby blaming other. While we acknowledge, any change requires changes on all elements of the supply chain, but that isn't impossible. Indian Oil, BPCL and HPCL and others better start making sulphur free fuels.
I am shocked at the irresponsibility of Tata, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra and other manufacturers. I heard Carlos Ghosn of Nissan say at COP 21 that in next 5 years, he is committed to bring emission free vehicles, our auto manufacturers remain silent or at best are happy blaming the government.
Unless, we bring Euro 6, we will keep killing innocent people of India. Our next generation will have stunted biological growth. The problem is of epic proportions and the vehicle manufacturers are the new Marlboros.
Until these manufacturers keep delaying the adoption of Euro 6, Let all Diesel vehicles carry the statutory warning "diesel kills".
(Author Sanjeeva Shivesh is the Chief Executive Officer of The Entrepreneurship School in Gurgaon. He is a former civil servant and strategy consultant turned entrepreneur interested in public affairs, economics and nurturing startup)