On the Move: Examining the hidden cost of transportation Pollution.

On the Move: Examining the hidden cost of transportation Pollution.

Transportation is a vital aspect of modern society, but it is also a major contributor to air pollution in India. The report by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change states that transportation is responsible for around 25% of all particulate matter emissions in India, making it a significant contributor to poor air quality. 

Causes of transportation pollution in India:

Transportation pollution or emissions from vehicles can be categorized into two forms: direct tailpipe emissions and pollutants formed due to the reaction of certain pollutants. The following are the causes of the rise in both kinds of transportation emissions: 

  • Traffic Congestions: High density of vehicles on the roads in India leads to increased emissions from vehicles due to prolonged idling and slow-moving traffic.
  • Combustion Process: The combustion process in vehicles is a significant source of pollution. Inefficient combustion in older vehicles results in higher emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.
  • The Fuel used in vehicles: The use of low-quality fuels such as adulterated gasoline and diesel in India contributes to higher emissions of pollutants.
  • Vehicle population: The high number of vehicles on the road in India is a major contributor to transportation pollution.
  • Technical issues with the engines: Poorly maintained vehicles and technical issues with engines can result in higher emissions of pollutants.

Pollutants from Transportation Emissions:

The burning of fossil fuels in vehicles, such as cars, trucks, buses, and trains, is the main source of transportation pollution in India. With the increasing population and economic growth, the demand for transportation has risen, resulting in more vehicles on the road, and more emissions released into the air.  The following are the pollutants from these emission sources: 

Carbon Dioxide:

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the primary constituents of a vehicle's tailpipe emissions. The byproduct of any fuel combustion process, today, motor vehicles are estimated to contribute to nearly 24% of the world's direct CO2 emissions. These emissions may not pose immediate health hazards, but their increasing build-up can lead to global warming and climate change.

Carbon Monoxide:

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly toxic, odorless, colorless gas that arises from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. It is detrimental to health as it affects the body's ability to absorb oxygen. Studies have found that in highly polluted cities like New Delhi, vehicular emissions are the primary source of CO, which notably fell by nearly 86% during the Covid-19 lockdown due to restrictions on vehicular movement.

Nitrous Oxide:

Nitrous oxide (NOx) arises from the high-temperature combustion of fossil fuels and contributes to ozone generation. Cities like New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Kolkata have some of the highest sources of NOx in the country, linked exclusively to vehicular pollution. An excess of NOx leads to ground-level ozone, which is highly correlated with respiratory diseases and asthma.

Particulate Matter:

Particulate matter (PM) is a combination of solid and liquid pollutants such as dust, soot, and smoke that are easily inhalable. These are categorized as PM 2.5 or PM 10, depending on their diameter. These could be directly formed as a result of fuel combustion or could be an indirect consequence of complex atmospheric reactions. The transport sector contributes to a third of India's PM pollution and 20-35% of PM 2.5 pollution in urban Indian cities.

Government initiatives and policies to address transportation pollution in India:

To address transportation pollution in India, the government has implemented several measures. One of the most popular measures is the promotion of electric vehicles (EVs). According to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the number of electric vehicles on the road in India is expected to reach 30 million by 2030. This is a significant increase from the 3,000 electric vehicles on the road in 2018. The IEA report also states that electric vehicles can reduce transportation pollution by up to 70%.

Another measure being implemented is the use of public transportation. According to a report by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, public transportation can reduce transportation pollution by up to 90%. The report states that public transportation is a more efficient and sustainable way to move people and goods, as it reduces the number of cars on the road. The government is also promoting bike-sharing schemes in major cities and encouraging people to use bicycles as a mode of transportation.

In addition, the government has also implemented stricter emission standards for vehicles. As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), all new vehicles in India must comply with the Bharat Stage VI (BS VI) emission standards, equivalent to the European Union's Euro VI standards. This is expected to significantly reduce transportation pollution in India.

Moreover, the Indian Government has been working on the development of public transportation infrastructure in the country. The government is focusing on building more metro rail systems in major cities, upgrading the existing public transportation systems, and developing more bus rapid transit systems. This is expected to reduce the number of private vehicles on the road and thus, transportation pollution.


Transportation emissions in India are a significant contributor to the country's greenhouse gas emissions and poor air quality. All stakeholders need to take action to address this issue. Citizens can make conscious choices to reduce their carbon footprint, vehicle manufacturers can invest in environmentally friendly technology, policymakers can implement regulations and policies, and regulatory bodies can enforce them. By working together, we can reduce transportation emissions in India and improve the air we breathe.

Take action today and reduce air pollution by making a wise decision about the environment. Choose Pure Skies for Clean Air.

Together, we can make a difference!







Post Comments