If I ask you the question, which is the quickest mode of transport among the following:
a) air b) land c) water?
I guess, without any delay your answer comes out to be air, and yes, you are correct.
Air is the quickest mode of transport today both for humans and pollutants. As by the means of air communication, we have the convenience to cover longer distances in a shorter time, so does the pollutant.
Air is the quickest medium through which the pollutants can find their way to reach deep inside our body and that is why air pollution is said to be the most dangerous and harmful kind of pollution affecting the lives of living creatures.
Air pollution is not a new fish in the pond of environmental pollution and it is also not that the government has not taken the possible steps to deal with this problem.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed by the government late in the year 1981 to prevent, control and abate the air pollution but still we are struggling to fight this silent killer.
Today, we have many sophisticated instruments to monitor air pollution, but unfortunately, a less number of effective techniques to control and abate this problem. Whenever we talk about the culprits behind this problem, only two pictures came into our mind:
1. Smoke coming out from the chimney of an industrial plant, and
2. Emissions taking place from tailpipes in automobiles.
These days, one might also think of stubble burning.
According to WHO, “Automobiles contribute to about 12-70% particulate pollution in the total pollution mix, it also highlighted that middle-income countries (like India) suffer disproportionately from the automobile pollution.”
What is the solution to this problem of pollution?
Today, there are two feasible solutions to control the emission from the tailpipe of automobiles:
1. To modify the engine design of the vehicle, and
2. To improve the quality of fuel.
So, which is the way we have to go?
Today, India is walking on both paths to meet with the BS-VI emission standards by April 2020. Modification petrol or diesel engine or improving the quality of petrol or diesel, both are feasible but are complex and expensive solutions.
Newly modified fuel engines will increase the cost of automobiles and the ultra refined petrol and diesel will affect the cost of fuel, which at the end has to borne by vehicle users. So, do we not have any eco-friendly and economical solutions to control vehicular emissions?
And my answer is no. We have one elephant inside the room and that is Compressed Natural Gas.
CSE Director Sunita Narain says, “Don’t try to incrementally change the quality of fuel because you will always stay behind the problem, change your fuel itself with the cleaner fuel.”
CNG is a cleaner and cheaper fuel in comparison to the polluting fuels like diesel and petrol. Also retro-fitting the CNG kit in the ‘in-use’ vehicle is comparatively easier and cheaper than the modified of petrol and diesel engines.
The most critical pollutants present in the atmosphere nowadays are PM, Nox, and Sox, which you may also have noticed on the LED screen while walking across metro stations.
Now the next question comes to your mind may be, is CNG capable of reducing the level of emissions of these pollutants from automobiles?
According to a World Bank report, “CNG driven buses produce 97% less particulate matter in comparison to the buses driven by Diesel.” Also, Nox emissions from the tailpipe of CNG vehicles is almost half than that from petrol vehicles.
This verifies the ability of CNG to control poisonous emissions from vehicles. Today, we have become so busy in finding a variety of solutions for this problem of pollution that we forget to effectively implement the solutions which we already have.
Sunita Narain once said, “Often we get so lost in the problem that we lose our ability to propose what should be done and the solution is right there.” The same is happening with CNG today. The whole world has gotten lost in making biodiesel and electric cars and forgotten about the currently available solution: CNG.