New Delhi: With rapidly escalating growth in vehicle numbers in India and air quality deteriorating as a result of emissions, environmental research leader TERI has called for stringent vehicular emission and fuel quality norms if future ambient pollution levels are to be brought down.
In a study unveiled Wednesday, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) revealed that "around 80 percent of Indian cities violate the standards of prescribed air quality, exposing their residents to detrimental levels of health-damaging air pollutants.
"To bring down the future ambient pollution levels, it is imperative that emissions from these sources are controlled," said Sumit Sharma, fellow and area convenor, Centre for Environmental Studies at Earth Science and Climate Change Division of TERI.
"One way to accomplish this is to have stringent vehicular emission and fuel quality norms," added Sharma, who presented the study on the Benefits of advancement of vehicular emissions and fuel quality norms in India.
He added that advancement of these norms could save more than 18,000 lives each year after 2030.
TERI, along with the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) unveiled the findings of three studies -- Benefits of Advancement of Vehicular Emissions and Fuel Quality Norms in India, India Retrospective Study, and the Impact of Alternative Options of Vehicular Emission Control on Health -- on vehicular emission control in India.
The studies intend to sensitise stakeholders to the issue of clean vehicles and fuels for air quality improvements.
"With the rapidly escalating growth of the number of vehicles in India, air quality as a result of emissions from vehicles is deteriorating in our towns, cities and highways," said R.K. Pachauri, director general of TERI.
Further highlighting the need for a stringent approach to controlling vehicular emissions through bench marking of technology and regulation, Pachauri said: "It can bring about major improvements, which would also carry significant health benefits for the population that is being exposed to emissions of harmful gases from vehicles throughout the country."
The India Retrospective study by Anup Bandivadekar, passenger vehicles programme director, ICCT, found that particulate emissions from vehicles, which have declined since 2003 but nevertheless cause around 40,000 premature deaths annually in Indian cities alone, will return to 2003 levels within five years if new controls are not mandated.
"India`s vehicular emissions as well as fuel quality standards are six to 10 years behind the world`s best. The best are moving forward, thus widening the gap. We need ultra-low sulphur fuel in India as soon as possible," he said.
The studies intend to endorse the idea of "One Nation, One Fuel, One Air Quality" and look forward to a better quality of fuel supply across India.
"The fuel policy standard in India needs to be implemented uniformly across the country and in line with the best international norms within five years. If the government does not deliver on this, it will be responsible for increased deaths of Indians in the next 10 years," said Dinesh Mohan, professor, Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi.