It’s advantage Kolkata, Mumbai in war against vehicular pollution
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It’s advantage Kolkata, Mumbai in war against vehicular pollution

CSE study says the two megacities fare better than smaller metros like Chandigarh, Pune, Jaipur and Kochi because of their sturdy public transport systems.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2018 19:14 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Kolkata,Vehicular pollution,Pollution
Students and staff of Zoological Survey of India participate in an awareness rally ahead of World Environment Day in Kolkata on Monday, June 04, 2018. (PTI File Photo)

Many cities in India would do well to learn a lesson from Kolkata and Mumbai in combating vehicular pollution. The two megacities have recorded the lowest per-trip emission and fuel consumption due to heavy dependence on the public transport system, thereby gaining an advantage over smaller urban centres such as Chandigarh, Pune, Jaipur and Kochi – where people rely more on private cars.

There revelations were made in a report brought out by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a Delhi-based think-tank. The report was published in Kolkata on Friday.

The study ranked 14 cities of the country in an increasing order of emission and fuel consumption, besides per-trip emission and fuel consumption. While Bhopal, Vijayawada and Chandigarh accounted for the lowest overall vehicular emission and fuel consumption, Delhi recorded the highest. Kolkata – occupying the seventh spot – was the first megacity in the list. Mumbai came tenth while Bengaluru, Chennai and Delhi appeared at the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth spots respectively.

“Among the mega cities, Kolkata and Mumbai can take some comfort from the fact that their population growth is not likely to affect the overall emission level significantly, especially if the advantage is not lost,” the report – titled ‘The Urban Commute and How it Contributed to Pollution and Energy Consumption’ – stated.

By advantage, the report meant strong public transport networks and compact urban planning. The study classified six urban agglomerations – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai – as megacities, and Bhopal, Vijaywada, Lucknow, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Kochi, Pune and Ahmedabad as metro cities.

However, CSE officials said that while cities like Jaipur, Chandigarh, Kochi and Pune have recorded low overall emission and fuel consumption due to less population, they are at higher risk than Kolkata and Mumbai due to their greater share of private cars (which result in increased per-trip emission and fuel consumption). “Kolkata provides the resounding message that despite population growth and rising travel demand, it is possible to contain motorisation with a well-established public transport culture, compact city design, high street density and restricted availability of land for roads and parking. This is exactly the model that Japanese cities and Hong Kong follow,” the report said.

The report also showed that Lucknow – despite having a relatively high number of private vehicles – recorded relatively low per-trip emission due to a largescale shift towards compressed natural gas.

Among megacities, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru face a greater risk due to their poor public transport networks. “Hyderabad presents a concerning picture in terms of being in the higher end of the spectrum of total emissions while being the worst city in terms of per-trip emissions too… the Metro system, which became operational recently and may expand in the near future, will only marginally help mitigate this situation. If the bus transport system does not expand in accordance with the population’s demand, they will invariably move to two-wheelers. And two-wheelers contribute the most to emissions,” the report said.

The study, however, warned that Kolkata may soon lose its emission advantage over other cities due to erratic urban planning in Rajarhat and New Town – where low street density and segregated land use is forcing its residents to depend on private vehicles. “If urban infrastructure continues to change in this manner, it will lock in enormous pollution that cannot be easily undone,” it said.

CSE executive director (research and advocacy) Anumita Roychowdhury said: “The key insight from our study is that an attractive public transport system to draw in more commuters, investment on low-emission or zero-emission vehicles and proper town planning with high density of streets is among the key factors necessary for fighting vehicular pollution in megacities and metro cities.”

Programme manager Gaurav Kumar Dubey described the report as the “first of its kind” in the country.

First Published: Aug 24, 2018 18:55 IST