Delhi plans to spend $834m to clean the world's worst air

Delhi plans to electrify most of its public transport to improve air quality. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) - India's Delhi state plans to spend US$600 million (S$834 million) over three years to electrify most of its public transport to improve air quality in one of the world's most-polluted cities.

The state, which regularly tops global air pollution charts, is working on a strategy to make 80 per cent of its buses electric by 2025, set up more charging stations and switch one-fourth of its power supply to solar to tackle the problem, said vice-chairman Jasmine Shah of the Delhi government's Dialogue and Development Commission.

India's mega urban centres, including capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai, are allocating funds to clean their water and air as population surges and the negative impact of climate change intensifies.

Delhi's plans are in line with the target of the South Asian nation, the world's third-biggest polluter, to gradually reduce harmful emissions to net zero.

Budgetary support is not the main problem, Mr Shah told Bloomberg Television in an interview on Thursday (Aug 25).

The biggest issue is the lack of political will, he said. "Over time, maybe in the years to come, additional budgetary support like green bonds or international finance will be crucial," said Mr Shah, adding that Delhi is currently funding its green efforts through its own resources.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India's target of net zero emissions by 2070 at the COP26 summit in Glasgow last year.

The country, which submitted its updated climate commitments to the United Nations this month, has taken a series of policy measures, including production-linked incentives to manufacture electric vehicles and batteries, and amendments to energy use laws, besides unveiling a national hydrogen plan.

Electric vehicles accounted for 12 per cent of total registrations in Delhi in the past two years, Mr Shah said.

The state has set up 2,500 public charging points, the highest in India, to help electric vehicles charge by paying as low as three cents, he said, adding that Delhi has also closed all thermal power plants to help improve air quality.

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