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Lucknow hopes for ride to a cleaner tomorrow

The start of the Lucknow metro rail service is expected to improve city’s air quality in the long run with reduction in use of personal vehicles, drop in fuel consumption.

lucknow Updated: Sep 01, 2017 16:11 IST
Anupam Srivastava and Richa Srivastava
No loss of green cover in Lucknow.
No loss of green cover in Lucknow.(HT Photo)

The start of the Lucknow metro rail service is expected to help reduce air pollution in the state capital in the long run.

Once people depend more and more on the Lucknow Metro service, it is expected that the air quality of the city will improve as there will be less use of cars and buses.

REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
  • No loss of green cover in Lucknow.
  • LMRC officials are of the opinion that metro rail service will help check pollution level because unlike in Delhi, LMRC has not cut down even a single tree along the metro route in Lucknow and so there is no loss of green cover.
  • Initially, the impact of metro vis-à-vis pollution was positive in Delhi and Kolkata. With a number of trees cut down on metro routes and gradual increase in number of vehicles on road, pollution was back in these cities, say experts.

Since Metro operation will not locally generate air emission, air quality will be better in future.

It could have another spinoff too. Once the air becomes cleaner, the quality of life of those suffering from respiratory distress will also improve.

In fact, the situation could be like a breath of fresh air for children like eight-year-old Rishabh who is not able to play cricket with his friends as he suffers from asthma attacks due to pollutants in the air.

When his friends call him to play in Lucknow’s Indira Nagar area every day, he has to turn them away and watch the action from his balcony.

Besides, he has to limit himself to indoor games and the occasional visit to a mall.

He is not the only one in this situation. Assuming alarming proportions each year, air pollution is forcing many youngsters to stay indoors.

It is for these children, who are afraid of venturing out of their homes because of pollution, that arrival of the eco-friendly Lucknow metro will improve the quality of life. “Air pollution is a killjoy. It is troubling not only Rishabh but up to 11% children below the age of 12 in Lucknow. Many of them have been diagnosed with asthma,” says Dr Surya Kant, head of the pulmonary medicine department at King George’s Medical University (KGMU) in the state capital.

Read more| Lucknow Metro: Stress-free, dignified travel for citizens

He says, “The pollution levels have been on an upward trend in the past five years. So, if Lucknow metro reduces the use of four wheelers and two-wheelers, it will be a welcome change for Lucknowites.”

Dr Mudit Goyal, a private practitioner, says, “Two or three children come to my clinic every month with chronic respiratory problems. A majority of the parents complain that their children start coughing the moment they reach the roadside.”

Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) managing director Kumar Keshav says, “The metro corridor will yield benefits from non-tangible parameters such as saving due to equivalent reduction in road construction and maintenance, vehicle operating costs, less atmospheric air pollution and socio-economic benefits of travel time, better accessibility, better comfort and quality of life. However, all benefits cannot be evaluated in financial terms due to non-availability of universally accepted norms. Parameters such as economic growth, improvement in quality of life, reduction in public health problems due to less pollution etc have not been quantified.”

Though things will improve,LMRC officials cannot guarantee reduction in vehicular pollution from day one. But they are optimistic that with traffic congestion and fuel consumption coming down, air pollution may reduce too.

The pollution levels have been on an upward trend in the past five years (HT Photo)

GROWTH OF PERSONAL VEHICLES MAY BE CHECKED

Without metro, it is estimated that the number of buses will have to increase by 4% by 2026 to meet the transport demand forecast.

During this period personalised vehicles may also grow by 4%. Together, they will compound the existing problems of congestion and delay. But the development of Lucknow metro will reduce journey time and hence congestion and delay. Thus, 4% growth in personalised vehicles could come down to 1% as a result.

After the start of Lucknow Metro, it is estimated that both petrol and diesel consumption will be reduced. The saving will be due to reduction in vehicles and decongestion on roads.

Reduction in road accidents will be positive impact of Lucknow Metro rail project implementation, says Kumar Keshav, the LMRC managing director.

Reduction in road accidents was also noticed after introduction of metro rail services in other cities like Delhi.

The major pollutants that define the ambient air quality are: particulate matter, Sulphur dioxide, Nitrogen oxides, and Carbon monoxide. The sources of these pollutants vary from domestic fuel burning to industrial and vehicular emissions.

In addition to the above pollutants, un-burnt products like aldehydes, formaldehydes, acrolein, acetaldehyde and smoke are by products of vehicular emissions.

Read more| Lucknow Metro: Need to go the extra mile for better connectivity

A report by Indian Institute of Toxicology Research highlights that vehicular traffic (emission) is the main source of particulate air pollution in Lucknow. Continuous emission of pollutants from vehicular traffic adversely affects the ambient air quality, as well as the health of human beings.

As per the report released on June 5, 2017, vehicular traffic is the main source of particulate air pollution in Lucknow city. The number of different categories of vehicles registered with RTO (Regional Transport Office) Lucknow is 19, 78,345 as on March 31, 2017, which is 6.10% higher over 2016.

As per the oil marketing company (IOC, BPC and HPCL), the consumption/sale of petrol and diesel was 1,93,345 and 2,30,626 KL as on March 31, 2017.

The sale of petroleum has increased by 11.36% whereas sale of diesel has increased by 26.38%.

The city has more than 18 lakh vehicles, which are increasing at an average annual growth rate of about 9%, says the recent IITR report.