The Uttarakhand transport department has issued 22 e-rickshaw permits as an effort to control noise and air pollution in Dehradun, but there is no scientific method to ascertain level of pollution added by public transport vehicles.
There are more than 400 buses, over 800 autos and 150 Tata Magic plying on the city streets.
Vinod Singhal, member secretary Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board told Hindustan Times, “There’s no specific module to check noise and air pollution emitted from public transport vehicles, but we do routine monitoring of both the indicators in general.”
According to Environment Protection Rules, the noise level of three-wheeler and buses is 70-80 decibel. The parameters must be considered while manufacturing vehicles. However, it should be monitored during renewal of permits by the concerned transport office.
Arvind Pandey, assistant regional transport officer, Dehradun, said: “We do not have the expertise to review noise and air pollution of public vehicles that come here for renewal.”
Dehradun district magistrate Ravinath Raman, however, is worried over noise and air pollution caused by shared autos. “If e- rickshaws are successful, it will definitely bring change in the pollution level. Our objective is to phase out shared autos that are the major source of noise and pollution,” he said.
Noise pollution recorded at seven places in the city is higher than permissible levels.
Data collected by the state pollution control board in 2015, show that Survey Chowk, Clock Tower and CMI Hospital, which are commercial hubs, have reported noise level above 65 decibel during day time through the year. Similarly, Race Course and Nehru Colony reported higher noise levels than the permissible 55 decibel. Doon Hospital and Gandhi Park too reports more levels than permissible 50 decibel.
Air pollution too is a cause of concern. Official records show that respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) recorded at three places in Dehradun–Clock Tower, Raipur Road and ISBT–and at Rishikesh, Haridwar, Haldwani and Kashipur is more than the permissible limit that is harmful for health.
“Certainly public transport adds to noise and air pollution, but it’s sad that the government does not keep record of how much pollution each vehicle is generating,” said Mahesh Bhandari, president Doon Resident Welfare Front
According to Dr KC Pant, senior physician at Doon District Hospital, both noise and air pollution is harmful for young and older people. “The suspended particulate matter is extremely dangerous for lungs. Children and elderly are most susceptible,” he said.