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India cracks down on cars to combat air pollution crisis

India cracks down on cars to combat air pollution crisis
India cracks down on cars to combat air pollution crisis

Delhi, India’s capital city, is taking decisive action after being recognized as having the world’s most polluted air. Starting November 13, 2023, the city will limit the number of cars on its roads. This will be done through a license-plate based system. 

Despite previous driving bans, pollution levels in India increased. In the past, Delhi’s administration responded by halting construction activities, closing schools, and urging commuters to use public transport

The situation is so severe that residents in South Asia (including India) will lose approximately five years of life expectancy if the pollution levels continue to rise. 

Vehicle restrictions in India

The latest initiative is the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which may present challenges for delivery and logistics companies. However, the programme also offers opportunities to innovate and contribute positively to environmental sustainability. 

Delhi’s environment minister Gopal Rai says cars with odd and even number plates will operate on alternate days of the week. In addition, heavy vehicles have been banned from entering the city, with the exception of essential services. 

Other key points of the NCAP include implementing sector-specific interventions to reduce pollution from agriculture sectors. The government of India is also boosting air quality monitoring across the country. 

Air pollution in Delhi

The measures implemented by the government might seem extreme. However, Delhi residents are likened to living in a gas chamber. The air is saturated with PM 2.5 particles – almost 80 times over the World Health Organization’s safe limit. 

The Air Quality Index (AQI) Annual Update for 2023 – conducted by Michael Greenstone and Christa Hasenkopf – states that air pollution is the greatest external threat to human life expectancy globally.

An AQI reading exceeding 300 is considered ‘hazardous,’ and Delhi’s air quality has been recorded at an alarming 588. The situation worsens gradually every winter due to crop burning in neighboring states. 

Initially, the NCAP set a target to reduce particulate pollution levels by 20 to 30% by the year 2024. This goal has since been revised to achieve a 40% reduction by 2026, focussed on the 131 cities that fail to meet national air quality standards. 

The bigger picture

Companies in India relying on fleets – including the logistics and delivery sectors – may face stricter emission standards. They would likely have to upgrade or replace older vehicle models with newer, cleaner counterparts. 

There may be a push towards adopting electric vehicles (EVs) or alternative fuels. Companies are also encouraged to invest in compliance and monitoring systems to keep ahead of emissions checks and maintenance schedules. 

ALSO READ: Uber’s bold roadmap to a greener logistics future

This would include route optimization to reduce travel distances and times, thereby lowering emissions and adhering to the evolving environmental regulations. The initial changes might be a pinch on the pocket but could lead to saving in the long run; especially in terms of fuel savings, lower maintenance costs, and the potential tax incentives for going green. 

The report – which can be viewed below – highlights a growing awareness and community-driven demand for urgent clean air actions in the region. It notes policy actions being taken in neighboring countries, which might offer a comparative perspective on India’s efforts.

About the author

Cheryl has contributed to various international publications, with a fervor for data and technology. She explores the intersection of emerging tech trends with logistics, focusing on how digital innovations are reshaping industries on a global scale. When she's not dissecting the latest developments in AI-driven innovation and digital solutions, Cheryl can be found gaming, kickboxing, or navigating the novel niches of consumer gadgetry.

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