India’s growing obsession with vehicles and failure to develop roads has increased air pollution in most cities, the country’s pollution watchdog has revealed.
In the past two decades, the roads’ carrying capacity increased by less than 2.5 per cent, whereas the number of vehicles grew at annual rate of over 10 per cent. In 2008, India’s 12 million vehicles were plying on the 3.5 million km road network.
For people, its visible impact was increased congestion on roads, but what one didn’t see was higher air pollution. “Vehicles in major cities estimated to account for 70 per cent of carbon monoxide, 50 per cent of hydrocarbons and 30 per cent of suspended particulate matter of the total pollution load of these cities,” the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said in its report on Wednesday. Four metros and cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kanpur are among the worst affected.
The report said that high concentration of pollutants cause lung cancer and asthma, besides routine breathing problems.
The sudden jump in air pollution is a recent phenomenon with CPCB finding that half of two-wheelers and cars running of Indian roads have been registered in the last five to seven years. The growth phenomenon in case of heavy vehicles has been less impressive.
The new vehicles, however, are not the sole cause of air pollution. The CPCB said vehicles older than 10 years caused 60 per cent of vehicular air pollution. And, the reason is poor maintenance and no norms in India for expiry of a vehicle, especially the private ones. Adulteration of fuel has been stated as another reason for high vehicular pollution.