Timeline of pollution in Delhi

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This is a timeline of pollution in Delhi, which is ranked the highest in the world.[1] Delhi suffers severe levels of air pollution, most of which comes from diesel-burning trucks and buses.[2]

Big picture

Time period Development summary
1980s The issue of air and water pollution in Delhi enters the Supreme Court's agenda in the late decade, and periodic statements and orders are issued from the bench.[3]
1990s Delhi reaches among the world's worst urban level of air quality. Air pollution's heavy impacts on human health, including infant mortality and asthma, leads to sustained efforts for improvement by Indian civil society.[4] Several small and medium-size industries are relocated from Delhi as a measure to control pollution.[5]
2000s Till mid-decade, busy Central and South Delhi areas are high air pollution zones. From then on, dirty air would spread to even cleaner residential areas.[6]
2010s Emergency plans to tackle the city’s annual crisis are reported to have failed in the last years.[7] Delhi’s pollution levels reach high enough to affect the respiratory and cardiac systems of even healthy people. [7] The city ranks among the most polluted in the world.

Full timeline

Year Month and date Pollution type Type of event Details
1955 Water pollution Crisis Sewage and industrial wastes from the Najafgarh drain cause a famous jaundice episode in Delhi. The Najafgarh drain comes to be known as "sorrow of Delhi"[8]
1974 Water pollution Policy The Central Pollution Control Board is set up under the Water Act.[9]
1982 General Policy Delhi passes its first Industrial Policy.[9]
1985 Air pollution Policy The Supreme Court of India states verdict to deal with the chronic problem of vehicular pollution in Delhi, one of the earliest stand taken by judiciary.[9]
1987 Air pollution Study A survey estimates that 1172 tonnes of suspended particulate matter, hydrocarbons, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and other poisonous gases are spewed into the air in Delhi by industrial units, the various modes of transport and the power sector.[10]
1990 – 2001 General Policy A Master Plan of Delhi allows for "light" industry to be set up in residential areas. This creates a leeway for many industries which are not in the hazardous category (H) to start in the areas vacated by the "H" category industries without the necessity for any permission from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.[11]
1993 – 2000 Light pollution Study Author Pavan Kumar says New Delhi, along with Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh experienced increase in “very high light pollution intensity” in the period.[12]
1994 Water pollution Policy The Supreme Court takes suo motu notice of a newspaper report about the pollution of the Yamuna.[3]
1995 General Policy The Supreme Court of India asks the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to categorize all industrial units in the city according to pollution hazard they pose.[13]
1995 Air pollution Policy Delhi government introduces catalytic converter in passenger cars as vehicle control measure policy to curb air pollution in the city.[9]
1996 February Water pollution Policy The Supreme Court of India orders the Delhi state government to construct common effluent treatment plants, which the industries are required to pay for, to reduce water pollution.[13]
1996 April General Policy The Supreme Court of India orders the relocation of factories away from residential areas.[13]
1997 Air pollution Study The annual suspended particulate matter average concentration in Delhi is 339.3 microgrammes per cubic meter.[10]
1998 Air pollution Policy The Supreme Court of India orders a major transformation of Delhi's transportation system, in response to a public interest petition on air pollution.[13]
1998 Air pollution Policy Delhi government introduces unleaded petrol as vehicle control measure policy to curb air pollution in the city.[9]
2000 Air pollution Policy Delhi government introduces reduction of benzene content in fuels and reduction of sulfur content in diesel as vehicle control measure policy to curb air pollution in the city.[9]
2003 General Policy After Supreme Court order on hazardous waste, stringent actions are prompted by various State Pollution Control Board in Delhi.[11]
2003 Air pollution Delhi wins the United States Department of Energy's first 'Clean Cities International Partner of the Year' award for its "bold efforts to curb air pollution and support alternative fuel initiatives".[14]
2007 Air pollution Study Study finds that the conversion of buses from diesel to CNG in Delhi helped reduce particulates, carbon monoxide, and sulfur oxide, while lowering the sulphur content of fuels cut both sulfur dioxide and – due to SO2 converting to sulphates, fine particles (PM10). Another study only identified lower CO as a result of the change to compressed natural gas in Delhi.[4]
2009 Water pollution, soil contamination Policy Delhi allows the use of only virgin plastic.[11]
2011 September Air pollution Study The World Health Organization releases data about urban air. This reveals that Delhi has crossed the maximum PM10 limit by almost 10-times at 198 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter). Emission from vehicle and industrial activities are found to be linked with outdoor as well as indoor air pollution in Delhi.[9]
2012 Water pollution, soil contamination Policy Delhi completely bans all plastic.[11]
2013 January Air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination Policy The High Court of Delhi directs the civic authorities of Delhi to shift the biomedical waste incinerator from the residential area in the city to outside.[11]
2013 April Air pollution Study Research paper by The Centre for Development Economics at Delhi School of Economics indicates that Delhi Metro helps reduce vehicular air pollution.[15]
2014 May General Study The World Health Organization announces New Delhi as the most polluted city in the world.[16]
2014 December Air pollution Study The Centre for Science and Environment classifies the air in Delhi as “severely polluted” for over 65 per cent days.[17]
2015 December Air pollution Study Study shows that Delhi loses 80 lives to air pollution every day, or approximately 10,000 to 30,000 annual deaths in the city.[17][18]
2015 End of the year Air pollution Policy Severe air pollution in Delhi National Capital Region leads to a number of Supreme Court rulings, one banning the sale of diesel cars in the area with engine displacements greater than 2.0 L from January 1 to 1 April 2016.[19]
2016 November Air pollution Crisis Air pollution in Delhi reaches 16 times above safe levels, and the Delhi government declares an emergency.[7][20]
2017 November Air pollution Crisis A public health emergency is declared by the Indian Medical Association in Delhi as air quality index breached 999, likened to smoking 50 cigarettes a day. Air pollution raises to over 710 micrograms per cubic meter, more than 11 times the World Health Organisation’s safe limit.[21][22][23][24]
2017 November 17 Air pollution Policy The government of Delhi launches the odd-even rule in an attempt to reduce pollution in the nation's capital. It is based on the Odd-Even rationing method: This means that cars running with number plates ending in Odd digits could only be driven on certain days of the week, while the Even digit cars could be driven on the remaining days of the week.[25]
2017 November 25 Air pollution Policy The Supreme Court of India bans the sale of firecrackers in Delhi to alleviate pollution.[26]
2017 December Air pollution Crisis During a test match between Sri Lankan and Indian cricket teams in New Delhi, Sri Lanka players begin to feel breathing problems and several players vomit both in the rest rooms and in the field and have to use face masks until the end of the match.[27]
2018 – 2019 November 1 2018 – January 6 2019 Air pollution Policy According to report, toxic levels of air pollution monitored over Delhi almost every week during the period shows that the government’s emergency plans to tackle the city’s annual crisis have failed.[7]
2019 March Air pollution Study Study published in journal Nature Sustainability shows that high levels of air pollution in New Delhi during the fall and winter months are largely the result of post-harvest burning of crop residue. Pollution levels from crop burning are so high they rival fossil fuel emissions during peak summer months. The findings contradict the widespread notion that the emission flux between cities and the countryside is mainly one-way, and that the main source of pollution in a megacity is expected to be traffic.[28]

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See also

External links


  1. "India takes steps to curb air pollution". who.int. Retrieved 10 May 2019. 
  2. "Where Is the Worst Air in the World?". slate.com. Retrieved 10 May 2019. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bauer, Joanne R. Forging Environmentalism: Justice, Livelihood, and Contested Environments: Justice, Livelihood, and Contested Environments. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Delhi air quality". panda.org. Retrieved 9 May 2019. 
  5. "Delhi lacks long-term plan to check industrial pollution". hindustantimes.com. Retrieved 10 May 2019. 
  6. Chauhan, Chetan. "Delhi cold brings pollution, illness". hindustantimes.com. Retrieved 10 May 2019. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Despite government's emergency pollution plan, Delhi once again breathed deadly air through winter". scroll.in. Retrieved 8 May 2019. 
  8. Agarwal, S. K. Water Pollution. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 "Pollution in Delhi : A Chronic Problem". jagranjosh.com. Retrieved 9 May 2019. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Agarwal, S. K. Air Pollution. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Raju, K.V.; Ravindra, A.; Manasi, S.; Smitha, K.C.; Srinivas, Ravindra. Urban Environmental Governance in India: Browsing Bengaluru. 
  12. "Not just air, light pollution too is on the rise in India". scroll.in. Retrieved 8 May 2019. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Bauer, Joanne R. Forging Environmentalism: Justice, Livelihood, and Contested Environments. 
  14. "Express India". Cities.expressindia.com. Archived from the original on 31 December 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  15. "Delhi Metro helps reduce vehicular air pollution, indicates research". indiatoday.in. Retrieved 9 May 2019. 
  16. Madhok, Madhok (16 October 2014). "Here is why India has no clue how bad its air pollution problem is". Quartz India. Retrieved 8 May 2019. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Delhi loses 80 lives to air pollution every day, says study". downtoearth.org.in. Retrieved 8 May 2019. 
  18. "Air pollution kills 30,000 in Delhi every year". hindustantimes.com. Retrieved 8 May 2019. 
  19. Naseem, Mohammad; Naseem, Saman. Energy Law in India. 
  20. "Indian government declares Delhi air pollution an emergency". theguardian.com. Retrieved 10 May 2019. 
  21. "Toxic Air Is Now A Year-Round Problem For Delhi". bloombergquint.com. Retrieved 9 May 2019. 
  22. "Delhi doctors declare pollution emergency as smog chokes city". theguardian.com. Retrieved 8 May 2019. 
  23. "Delhi residents panic as 'deadly smog' returns". bbc.com. Retrieved 8 May 2019. 
  24. "Delhi's air pollution is triggering a health crisis". bbc.com. Retrieved 8 May 2019. 
  25. "Odd-Even Rule: 5 Things You Need to Know - NDTV CarAndBike". CarAndBike. Retrieved 24 May 2019. 
  26. "Supreme Court bans sale of firecrackers in Delhi, NCR". Times of India. Retrieved 8 May 2019. 
  27. Safi, Michael (2017-12-03). "Pollution stops play at Delhi Test match as bowlers struggle to breathe". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 May 2019. 
  28. "Burning Crops Are a Top Source of Air Pollution in India, Study Finds". e360.yale.edu. Retrieved 15 May 2019.