Delhi's smog to cripple economy in Indian capital and surrounding cities: Study

This is Delhi's worst smog in 17 years. The pollution has prompted India?s federal government to call it an 'emergency situation', while New Delhi?s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has referred to Delhi as a 'gas chamber'. Photograph:( AFP )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 08, 2016, 11.28 AM (IST)

The entire area of India's National Capital Region encompassing not only Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad but right up to Meerut, Panipat, Bhiwadi and Rohtak is likely to witness a crippling economy, thanks to the tremendous pollution in the Indian capital and surrounding areas, stated a paper by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

The tourism, transport, automobile and real estate sectors will be hit with several billions of dollars of fresh investment and GDP loss, the paper said.

ANI reported ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat saying that the tourism season could see a maximum hit with pollution in the city making global headlines.

Foreign tourists often visit the 'Golden Triangle' of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur (entire Rajasthan). "If urgent steps on emergency scale are not taken, the economic impact arising out of the health issues could be catastrophic for the NCR, one of the important pillars of the national economy. Besides, this is also a wakeup call for other regions around Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata," ANI reported Rawat as saying.

Global tour operators have already asked their Indian counterparts if the visitors can avoid Delhi, excepting the touch-down options at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the national capital. "Surely, the maximum impact would be felt by the Delhi economy which had the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Rs 5,58,745 crore (USD 8,388) in 2015-16 at current prices. The GSDP of Delhi has been among the fastest growing in the country, but such a growth cannot be taken for granted," the paper stated.

The chamber suggested short-term and long-term measures to tackle pollution in the NCR.

Meanwhile, authorities in New Delhi have begun revoking licences for thousands of older diesel vehicles on Tuesday and halted construction work on the underground rail network, a Reuters report said.

The capital city, with a population of more than 17 million people, has been covered in smog for a week now.

Licences given to diesel-powered vehicles of more than 15 years old are being withdrawn, which would lead to 200,000 vehicles going off roads, Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung's office said in a statement.

The National Green Tribunal had in July ordered Delhi authorities to pull diesel vehicles that were more than 10 years old off the roads, but that order was not enforced.

Reuters reported that the levels of PM 2.5, tiny particulate matter that reaches deep into the lungs and causes breathlessness, throat irritation and wheezing, were above 700 in some of the city's worst affected areas on Monday, according to the air quality index as monitored by the US embassy.

(WION with inputs from agencies)