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Pollution in Delhi: How Can It Be Controlled?

November 25, 2014

by Rumani Saikia Phukan

A perennial problem in India is pollution. According to the global Environment Performance Index (EPI) 2014, India has reached a rank of 155, slipped 32 ranks from the previous year, and it is disheartening to hear that Delhi, the national capital of the country, is being tagged as one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world. It is the world’s worst city for air pollution. Thus, today, one of the biggest threats to the welfare of the people of Delhi and the city as a whole is pollution of various types.

Classification of pollution in Delhi

  • Air pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Water pollution
  • Domestic waste
  • Industrial waste
  • Vehicular pollution
  • Hospital waste
  • Solid waste etc.

Causes of pollution in Delhi

  • Growing population of the city. The pressure and haphazard growth of the population is deteriorating the environment.
  • There has been highly haphazard and unplanned development of industries and factories. Studies have revealed that only about 20% of the industrial units are set up in the approved industrial areas whereas the rest of them are in residential and commercial areas.
  • There has been a huge rise in the vehicular population, in spite of the metro railways, aggravating traffic congestion and increasing air and noise pollution. It has also been reported that the number of vehicles plying on the roads of Delhi is more than that of the three metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai taken together.
  • There has also been an ever-increasing number of diesel vehicles plying on the roads, which are largely responsible for the air pollution.
  • It has been reported by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) that everyday almost 8,000 m tonnes of solid waste is being generated in Delhi. Plus we also have the industrial hazardous and non-hazardous waste. On an average, everyday, the MCDs and the NDMC manage to clear about 5,000-5,500 m tonnes of garbage. This results in the accumulation of more and more garbage in the city.
  • There has been no proper technology or methods to treat solid, liquid, waste water, industrial and hospital wastes in the city.
  • There has been too much dependence on fossil fuels like coal-fired power plants, improper use of energy in buildings and the excessive use of biomass for cooking and heating, etc

Particulate matter for measuring pollution

One way of measuring pollution is by the measure of particulate matter. Particulate matter is basically a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets like acids, chemicals, gas, water, metals, soil dust particles, etc., the measurement of which gives an idea of the pollution of a city. It is also known as particle pollution or PM.

Pollution in Delhi: Facts and figures

  • According to the Ambient Air Pollution (AAP) report for the year 2014, Delhi had PM 2.5 pollution levels, which is the highest in the world, followed by Beijing. This result was based on the monitoring of PM measurement of outdoor air pollution from almost 1,600 cities in 91 countries.
  • The highest concentration of PM 2.5 form of air pollution is supposed to be a very serious matter and can lead to respiratory diseases and other health problems like lung cancer.
  • According to the WHO, air pollution is the fifth largest killer in India.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO), a dangerous gas emission, is around 6,000 microgram per cubic metre in Delhi, which is much above the the safe level of 2,000 microgram per cubic metre.
  • The level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has also been increasing.
  • According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) is 121, which is described as “poor.” The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality, about how clean or polluted the air is.

Government’s steps to control pollution in Delhi

  • There are mobile enforcement teams deployed at various locations for monitoring polluting vehicles and vehicles not having PUC certificates.
  • A Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) is being constructed with the aim of providing a non-polluting, useful and affordable rail-based mass rapid transit system for Delhi, integrated with other modes of transport.
  • With a view to reducing vehicular pollution, there has been a ban imposed on the plying of more than 15 years old commercial/transport vehicles, taxis and autos that run on conventional fuels, including diesel driven city buses.
  • There has also been tightening of mass emission standards for new vehicles.
  • The quality of the fuel being supplied in Delhi has been significantly improved over the years by the ban of selling leaded petrol, introduction of low sulphur diesel, reduction of sulphur and benzene content in petrol.
  • There has been regular placement of dustbins, purchase of additional front-end loaders, mechanical sweepers, dumper placers, tipper trucks, to collect and dispose of garbage.
  • Steps are taken to transform garbage into compost by developing new sanitary land-fill sites.
  • The Delhi Government has constituted a committee to implement the Bio-Medical Waste (management and handling) Rules, 1998.
  • The Delhi Degradable Plastic Bag (Manufacture, Sale and Usage) and Garbage (Control) Act 2000 has been enacted for banning the manufacture and use of plastic bags, etc.

It’s not that the Government is not taking steps to control pollution in Delhi. But we need proper and efficient implementation of plans and programmes and policies launched by the Government.

How can citizens of Delhi help in reducing pollution?

Pollution in Delhi is a perpetual problem which need to be looked upon as a serious issue not only by the Government but also by the citizens of the city.

  • One of the easiest ways is that there should be an efficient involvement of Resident Welfare Associations in various localities in collection, segregation of garbage from houses and the societies.
  • Citizens can take steps to covert the garbage into compost in their localities.
  • More and more trees must be planted in every locality.
  • Every individual should keep a proper check on the pollution level of their vehicles.
  • Making more use of CNG.
  • One of the best ways to control pollution is to manage wastes of all types in a proper manner.
  • Each and every citizen should abide by the 3Rs: Recycle, Reuse, Reduce.
  • More and more people should use bus and metro instead of cars and scooters, as they can carry a lot more people in one journey. Car pool is also a good option.
  • Controlling the use of energy and making use of electricity in an efficient manner.
  • One can also reduce water pollution by reducing the use of chemicals, cleaning agents, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers etc.

It is the duty of every citizen to think in a broader perspective to control pollution. We really don’t want our future generations to live in an unhealthy environment in Delhi. We really don’t want our children or our elders to get into incessant coughing due to pollution. Like we say charity begins at home, I take a pledge to do what I can for my environment and protect it to the best I can. If each one of us takes a pledge to do our bit for our environment, I am sure Delhi will be a better place to live in. Even a small step counts…

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E. Sreedharan Biography

E. Sreedharan is an Indian engineer known as the “Metro Man” for his pivotal role in building the Konkan Railway and Delhi metro. This biography of E. Sreedharan provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, popularly known as the “Metro Man”, is an Indian engineer who played a key role in the building of the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro. In India millions of people are dependent on the public transport and the credit for changing the very face of Indian public transport goes to this enterprising engineer. The man who began his career as a lecturer in an engineering college appeared for the Engineering Services Examination (ESE) and joined the Indian Engineering Service (IES). He first proved his ability as an engineer when he was put in-charge of restoring a bridge that had been damaged by a cyclone. He executed the complete work within 46 days as against the six months allotted to this task. Recognized by the government for his brilliance, he was made the in-charge for planning and designing the Kolkata metro, the very first metro in India. The next several years saw him working with the single-minded conviction to improvise the public transport system in India. He had become such an invaluable asset to Indian Railways that the government let him know that his services would be required even after he retired from IES. Several national and international honors have been bestowed upon him for his pioneering works.

E. Sreedharan

Childhood & Early Life

  • He was born in Palakkad district of Kerala on 12 June 1932. His family hailed from Karukaputhoor.
  • He received his early education from Basel Evangelical Mission Higher Secondary School after which he went to the Victoria College in Palghat.
  • He chose to study engineering and completed his Civil Engineering from the Government Engineering College, Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.



  • After completing his education he was appointed as a lecturer in Civil engineering at the Government Polytechnic, Kozhikode. He worked there only for a short while before joining the Bombay Port Trust as an apprentice.
  • In 1953, he appeared for the Engineering Services Examination (ESE) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and cleared it. He joined the Indian Engineering Service (IES) and was posted as a Probationary Assistant Engineer in the Southern Railway in December 1954.
  • He faced the first big challenge of his career in December 1964 when a cyclone damaged the Pamban Bridge in Tamil Nadu. The Railways allotted a period of six months for the repair works while Sreedharan’s boss wanted the work done within three. Sreedharan, who was made in-charge of the restoration, executed the work in just 46 days.
  • In 1970, Sreedharan was assigned the responsibility of implementing, planning and designing the Kolkata metro, the first ever metro in India. He was deputy chief engineer at that time.
  • With his hard work and determination he led the successful completion of the job and set the pace for the further development in infrastructure engineering in India. He was associated with the project till 1975.
  • In October 1979 he joined the Cochin Shipyard Limited, the largest shipbuilding and maintenance facility in India. But at the time of his joining, the agency was not performing well. However, under Sreedharan’s direction, the agency flourished and launched its first ship MV Rani Padmini in 1981.
  • He became the general manager, Western Railway in July 1987. A couple of year later he was elevated to the post of Member Engineering, Railway Board and ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India.
  • He retired in June 1990 but the government informed him that his services would still be needed and thus he was appointed the CMD of Konkan Railway on contract.
  • The Konkan Railway project, which had 93 tunnels with a total tunnel length of 82 km and involved tunneling through soft soil, was very different from the typical Indian railway projects. The total project covered 760 km and had over 150 bridges. Under his leadership, the work was completed in seven years.
  • He was later made the managing director of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). Again he proved to be an extraordinary leader and all the scheduled sections were completed within their respective budgets, and by their target time.
  • The phenomenal success of the Delhi Metro made him a national celebrity and the government honored him with many awards for his relentless hard work and dedication. He retired from service in December 2011.


Awards & Achievements


Personal Life & Legacy


See the events in life of E. Sreedharan in Chronological Order

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Last Updated

- October 31, 2017

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, Metro Man

Famous as: Metro Man


Birth Date:June 12, 1932

Age:85 Years

Sun Sign: Gemini

Born in: Palakkad, Kerala

father: K.Neelakantan Moosad

mother: Ammalu Amma

Spouse/Ex-spouse: Radha

More Facts

education: Civil Engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Kakinada

awards: Padma Shri - 2001
Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur - 2005
Padma Vibhushan - 2008

Pictures of E. Sreedharan

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