Smog Digest | Centre for Science and Environment


Smog Digest

Smog digest is a news service on vehicular pollution based on news clippings selected from leading Indian newspapers and newsmagazine. It also highlights the key developments from South Asian countries. The months witnessed lots of action and developments on the vehicular pollution front in India.

July - August 2010

 
 
Air pollution in Indian cities


Breathing in Varanasi gets shallow:
Are people living in urban areas of Varanasi taking shallow breaths instead of deep, lungful of air? It would definitely appear so if one went by the cross-sectional study conducted by a group of medicos of the department of physiology, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University (BHU). The study suggested there had been a decline in the respiratory performance of Varanasi population in 22 years. According to Dr MB Mandal, one of the researchers, lung function tests were performed on apparently healthy, non-smoking male population aged 16-50 years living in the city area. The people were divided into five groups according to their age (16-19-yr, 20-25-yr, 26-30-yr, 31-35-yr and 40-50-yr). Anthropometric determinants (height and weight) and respiratory performance (vital capacity and peak expiratory flow rate) were recorded in 1982 and 2004.
Source: The Times of India,, Varanasi, July 3, 2010.

Presence of SPMs exceed safe limit in Jammu: Experts: There is bad health news for the residents of Jammu as the presence of suspended particles in the city atmosphere have exceeded the limit considered as safe for breathing , experts said on Saturday. According to the data of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) and Respiratory Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) has witnessed a steep rise in the past two decades, crossing the limits suggested as safe by the health experts. According to the scientists monitoring the pollution level in Jammu daily, the normal limit of SPM that should be 100 micrograms is between 110-114 micrograms and the RSPM (normal limit around 200 micrograms) is a around 220 to 230 micrograms, indicating that the air in the city is unsuitable for breathing at most places. The PCB has three units within the city at MA stadium, Narwal and Bari Brahmana industrial area.
Source: Greater Kashmir.com, Jammu, July 4, 2010.

A record low in air and noise pollution on bundh day: The deserted road, less vehicular movement, children playing on an otherwise busy streets and people strolling leisurely on the roads reminded the grand-old folk their golden old days when Bangalore had earned the name of 'Garden City' and 'Pensioners' Paradise'. Traffic police who usually have to deal with heavy pollution in the City on other days appeared quite happy. "It is great to work on such days when you do not have any vehicular movement. The atmosphere with less pollution looks quite good," said a traffic constable. "Air pollution was almost 40 per cent below the average," said a smiling A S Sadasivaiah, chairperson of the Pollution Control Board. Toxic gases like sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and suspended particles were much below the permissible levels in those areas which have earned notoriety in terms of pollution.
Source:Deccan Herald, Bangalore, July 7, 2010.

Pune 69th among 91 most-polluted cities: Rising vehicular congestion is taking a toll on most Indian cities with a faster rate of increase in air pollution in smaller places like Pune, Nagpur and Amravati in the state becoming a cause for concern. Minister of state (independent charge) ministry of environment and forests in his written reply to a question raised in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday listed 91 of the most polluted cities for 2009. Pune features 69th with a high level of suspended particulate matter (PM10). The average PM10 level is 82 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3). Jharia in Jharkhand was the most polluted city in India. Smaller cities like Ludhiana beat New Delhi on the pollution count (see box). Mumbai was placed 37th with a PM10 level of 109 ug/m3 while Navi Mumbai is marginally worse at 36th place with 111 ug/m3. The permissible limit of Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) is 60 ug/m3 as per the ambient air quality monitoring standards.
Source: The Times of India, Pune, August 5, 2010.

Govt wakes up, chalks out plan to improve air quality: With barely three months in hand, Delhi government has woken up to the need of putting together a comprehensive plan to improve the city’s air quality for the Commonwealth Games. After a meeting with the chief minister and members of the court appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), a 13-point programme has been prepared for which chief secretary Rakesh Mehta has written to agencies concerned like transport department, power department and MCD. The programme is being coordinated by environment secretary Dharmendra. Officials said that work had been distributed to various departments and a review on progress was likely to be held in the beginning of August. ‘‘The agencies are working on the proposed action and we will assess the extent of implementation. Delhi’s main problem is its vehicles but since it’s not possible to curb them in this short time, we are focussing on other areas that contribute to pollution and can have a temporary solution,’’ said an official.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, July 20, 2010.

During Commonwealth Games, devices to measure pollution levels: As the country gets set for the Commonwealth Games in October this year, scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune have given India an Air Quality Index (AQI) and a System for Air Pollution Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). Gufran Beig, Project Director of SAFAR and scientist at IITM, was assisted by Sachin Ghude and Aparna Deshpande as they scientifically evaluated existing air quality standards to define the AQI for India. It couldn’t get simpler than this. A green colour code with a value between 0-100 indicates good air quality. But if the colour code is red, beware, it could trigger a health alert, say the scientists. The AQI is primarily a health-related index based on air pollution with descriptor words ‘Good’ for values of 0-100, ‘Moderate’ for 101-200, ‘Poor’ for 201-300, ‘Very poor’ for 301-400, and ‘Severe’ for 401-500. Says Beig, “We combined all recent Indian AQI studies and the notification of the new National Ambient Air Quality Standards and proposed an Air Quality Index for criteria pollutants—O3, CO, NO2, PM10, and PM2.5.”
Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi, August 30, 2010.

 
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Fuel and vehicle technology

Euro-4 emission norms must for four-wheelers in city: Development and industrialisation are also raising the pollution levels in the city. This is evident from ministry of road transport and highways' list, which has included Surat among the 13 most polluted cities in the country. A new guideline for registration of vehicles for these cities was issued on April 1. The state government has sent a notification to this effect to the Regional Transport Office (RTO) here last month. The emission norms for registration of vehicles in the city have been changed and upgraded under the notification. All four-wheelers that get registered within Surat Municipal Corporation's (SMC) jurisdiction will have to follow Euro-4 emission norms in place of existing Euro -3 standards till now. Similarly, the two-wheelers that get registered will have to have Euro-3 emission norms in place of Euro-2 standards.
Source: The Times of India, Surat, July 5, 2010.

Hero bets big on electric: Sensing the growing potential of electrically-powered vehicles, New Delhi-based Hero Electric, a wholly-owned electric two-wheeler subsidiary of the Munjals-promoted Hero Group, plans to use the electric platform to roll out three-wheelers and other speciality vehicles. Managing director Naveen Munjal told FE that due to the rising awareness of electric vehicles, the company is exploring the feasibility of rolling out electric three-wheelers and other speciality vehicles since it has been one of the pioneers of the electric platform in the country. Munjal added any launch could take anywhere four-five years. “For the electric two-wheeler segment, one of our main target audience are the youngsters...it gives us an opportunity to evolve as a primarily two-wheeler maker to much more in the future,” Munjal said. He added that though electrically powered vehicles had high growth potential owing to low maintenance costs, electric two-wheelers could be the main volume drivers due to practical viability.
Source: The Financial Express, New Delhi, July 15, 2010.

Govt to provide Rs 14,000 cr to oil companies as subsidies: The government will give Rs 14,000 crore in cash to Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum to make up for the losses incurred on selling fuel below cost in the first quarter of 2010-11 fiscal. The Finance Ministry today sought parliamentary approval for additional spending of Rs 68,294.30 crore that included Rs 14,000 crore "for providing compensation to oil marketing companies towards estimated under-recoveries on account of sale of petroleum products." Retailers IOC, BPCL and HPCL lost about Rs 20,275 crore on selling petrol, diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene below cost in the first quarter of this fiscal. Of these, losses of upstream firms like Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), made up for one-third or Rs 6,690.68 crore. The Finance Ministry will meet the rest by way of cash dole-outs after Parliament passes supplementary demands for grants.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, August 3, 2010.

Free charging ports for electric vehicles: Power Distribution Company BSES will offer free charging ports for electric vehicles for the duration of the Commonwealth Games. The initiative is aimed at reducing air and noise pollution. The company will provide 28 charge ports free till the Games and also plans to encourage the use of electric scooters. “The company has entered into an agreement with the manufacturers of Hero electric scooters, which are being made available to employees at discounted prices and convenient installments,” said a company official. “Electric scooters, unlike their petrol counterparts, are very economical to run. They consume just 1 unit of electricity (costing between Rs.2.45 to Rs.4.65 per unit) for travelling 60 km. Whereas their petrol counterparts consume around Rs.40 to run the same distance. An electric scooter is also low on maintenance,” he added. BSES will also install e-charge ports at vantage points across South and West Delhi.
Source: The Hindu, New Delhi, August 24, 2010.

Fuel efficiency label from Oct.: Come October, you can compare fuel efficiency of various models of different manufacturers be-fore buying a car. The comparative data would, however, be provided for models in the same category. “SIAM’s voluntary fuel efficiency labelling for vehicles will be implemented from October 1. This labelling would provide information to consumers on the comparative fuel efficiency of vehicles in different categories,” said Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), president, Mr Pawan Goenka. He also indicated softening of the industry’s stance against the mandatory disclosure of fuel efficiency level. “The industry is willing and prepared to accept the mandatory fuel efficiency standards. As a starting point, we invite the government to formally adopt the mandatory requirement,” said Mr Goenka. The environment minister, Mr Jairam Ramesh, said that it has now been decided to notify fuel efficiency standards for auto makers under the Energy Conservation Act which will come into force from January next year.
Source: The Asian Age, New Delhi, August 27, 2010.

Government to soon notify fuel efficiency standards: After wranglings between the power and transport ministries, the government has now decided to notify fuel efficiency standards for auto makers under the Energy Conservation Act which will come into force from January next year. "The standards will be notified under the Energy Conservation Act 2002 by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and not under the Motor Vehicle Act," environment minister Jairam Ramesh said at the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) summit here. This has been decided, he said, "after considerable wranglings between different ministries and inhibition by the automobile sector. "And since technical work has been done. Only fine-tuning is remaining. I would urge SIAM to work with the power and surface transport ministries to work with the clear objective of moving towards mandatory fuel standards from January next year."
Source: Daily News and Analysis, New Delhi, August 27, 2010.


 

Alternative Fuels

Boost for city gas projects as regulator gets licensing powers: Gas retailing is likely to gather pace. The Government is set to strengthen the powers of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) by allowing it to grant licences to companies for taking up city gas projects — piped natural gas (PNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG). “After much deliberation, the Government is now going to notify Section 16 of the PNGRB Act, 2006, which will enable the Board to function in its full capacity,” the Petroleum Secretary, Mr S. Sundareshan said. An official source told Business Line, “Till now the Board was only following the process of selecting the cities, calling for the bids, comparing the bids, selecting the winner and recommending to the Government. The Board did not have the powers to authorise the winners.” Thus, with the notification of Section 16 all uncertainties pertaining to powers of the Board to either conduct the bidding or offer licences to successful bidders for taking up city gas projects in the cities will be put to rest. The Board also gets the authority to invite bids and issue licences for oil product pipelines as well.
Source: Business Line, New Delhi, July 14, 2010.

Gujarat to roll back CNG price hike: Here is the good news for you. You will not be affected by the recent hike in CNG prices. The state government said on Monday that it would roll back the recent hike in CNG prices. While terming the Centre's petroleum policy as flawed one, the state government alleged that the Centre is providing imported gas to Gujarat, which leads to frequent changes in gas prices. Saurabh Patel, minister of state for energy and petrochemicals, said that the prices in the state move according to the changes in price in international market. "Gujarat is getting gas, which is being imported from Qatar under a long-term agreement between Qatar and the Central government's company Petronet LNG. On the other hand, big cities like Mumbai and Delhi are getting gas, which is produced in the country. Prices of imported gas fluctuate more as they are linked to oil prices in the international market.
Source: Daily News and Analysis, Gandhinagar, August 3, 2010.

ARAI makes engine to cut back emissions: The Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) has developed a four-cylinder engine at their power train engineering (PTE) laboratory that will support an 18 per cent blend of hydrogen and compressed natural gas (HCNG). It promises to reduce carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other emissions. The HCNG engine will be on display at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. Tata Motors has evinced interest in the technology for use in its light commercial vehicles. S S Thipse, the lab's senior assistant director, said that CNG-run vehicles emit nitrogen dioxide. The HCNG engine developed by ARAI reduces nitrogen dioxide along with other pollutants. The fuel economy and power output of the engine is superior when compared to CNG's, he added. When compared to CNG, 20 per cent of HCNG blend can cut 40-50 per cent carbon monoxide, 25-30 per cent non-methane hydrocarbons, 45-50 per cent nitrogen dioxide and 7 to 10 per cent carbon dioxide emissions, Thipse added.
Source: The Times of India, Pune, August 5, 2010.

OEMs gear up to make affordable CNG-LPG kits: As the future lies with alternative fuel powered vehicles, automakers are charting out aggressive plans to grab a sizeable chunk of this segment. Leading automakers are trying to bring down the cost of factory-fitted CNG-LPG kits to capture market from the unorganised sector players. Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), the market leader with around 50 per cent market share of the passenger vehicle segment, is working on minimising the cost of CNG/LPG kits, and eventually bring down the cost of these variants. M M Singh, managing executive officer of production, MSIL said, "The demand for CNG vehicles is very high in major cities and we are planning to come up with CNG models in a big way. Currently, we import parts of the kit from European countries, while some parts are available in India. We are working on reducing the cost of these kits so as to offer factory-fitted CNG cars at a competitive price in the long run".
Source: Business Standard, Ahmedabad August 10, 2010.

Haryana cuts VAT on CNG & PNG: In what could come as a relief for residents of Gurgaon, Faridabad and other NCR cities of Haryana, the state cabinet has decided to reduce the value added tax (VAT) on CNG and piped natural gas (PNG) by over 50 per cent. A government spokesperson said that the VAT on CNG and PNG will reduce from the present 12.5 per cent to 5 per cent. The decision was taken under the chairmanship of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The cabinet also gave its approval to the proposal of Excise and Taxation Department for amending Rule 9(1) (xiv) of Punjab Passengers and Goods Taxation Rules, 1952 to facilitate implementation of new composite fee regime for national permit. Under the new scheme of single national permit fee, a consolidated composite fee of Rs 15,000 per truck per annum is to be deposited in the NP account for the permit granted to operate throughout the country. The consolidated fee deposited shall be distributed by the Centre among the states and UTs on pro-rata basis.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, August 11, 2010.

Rlys to convert diesel engines into CNG system: The Indian Railways Organization for Alternative Fuel (IROAF), a unit under the Railway Board, has decided to convert about 40 diesel powered cars into compressed natural gas-run (CNG) system. This step is being contemplated by the railways to switch over to cheaper and cleaner CNG system at a time when the fuel prices have gone skyrocketing. A Railway Board official admitted that a small reduction in fuel consumption through use of alternative fuel, efficient engine and improved technology could result in substantial savings in fuel bills. The railways has been coughing up approximately about Rs 4,500 crore annually for the 2.3 billion litres of diesel being consumed for running diesel-propelled engines. The recent hike in diesel prices is likely to cost an additional 10 per cent (Rs 450 crore) to the railways towards diesel cost, he said. According to the official, the proposed plan envisages supply of necessary kits for conversion of 40 diesel engines into CNG system.
Source: The Times of India, Patna, August 12, 2010.

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Biofuels
 

GoM upholds ethanol blending price: In spite of the stiff opposition from the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, the group of ministers (GoM) on ethanol today maintained status quo on its earlier decision by upholding a price of Rs 27 a litre for a mandatory 5 per cent blending with petrol. This is against a price of Rs 21.50 per litre which prevailed between 2006 and 2009. “Blending has been made mandatory at Rs 27 per litre,” Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah said here after a meet of GoM. The future price would be decided by an expert committee, he said. In an earlier meeting in April, the GoM had approved an interim price of Rs 27 for mandatory blending of petrol and ethanol. However, this ran into a hurdle from the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers. The two primary consumers of molasses-based alcohol are the potable liquor sector and chemical producers.
Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, July 27, 2010.

 
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In-use vehicles
 

Action against vehicles spreading pollution in Chhattisgarh: The Chhattisgarh government has decided to take action against vehicles without pollution certificates and reflectors, official sources said today. Permits of such vehicles will also be cancelled, they said. NK Aswaal, principal secretary of transportation department, had yesterday given directions and instructions in this connection at a review meeting organised by regional transport offices, they said. Besides, a survey will be conducted in rural areas in the state, where at present there is a lack of passenger bus service and according to the survey, necessary passenger facility will be made available, they said. The transportation department has earned a revenue of Rs 30 crore 32 lakh in the month of May this year which is 19.17 per cent more than the collection last year, sources added.
Source: Daily News and Analysis, Raipur, July 1, 2010.

Pollution big boys ply at night: More than 99 per cent of the commercial vehicles plying on Calcutta roads after 10pm failed the foul fume, noise or age test over three months of random pollution policing ordered by the high court. The results of the February-April quarter not only make a mockery of the campaign against pollution but also put a question mark on the authenticity of the pollution-under-control stickers that many of these vehicles flaunt on their windshields. “We checked 221 vehicles for emission and noise at various locations after 10pm over three months and were shocked to find 220 of them guilty on one or both counts. Worse still, many of these vehicles were found to be more than 15 years old and, therefore, banned under law,” said a senior official of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board, which conducted the tests in collaboration with Calcutta police. Emission expert S.M. Ghosh, who matched the registration numbers of these vehicles with transport department records, confirmed that over 20 per cent of these were on the road for more than 15 years.
Source: The Telegraph, Kolkata, July 8, 2010.

City Traffic Police intensify vehicle emission: If your vehicle has not been checked for adherence emission norms, do it now. For the Chennai City Traffic Police have intensified vehicle emission checks across the city and if caught twice without emission under control' certificate, your vehicle could be impounded. Police teams led by traffic additional commissioner M Ravi fanned out across the city on Saturday and booked 175 cases of emission violation. The teams used 16 mobile gas emission analysers (eight each for diesel vehicles and petrol vehicles) to check 500 vehicles. Talking to reporters after the drive, Ravi said the city traffic police have booked 36,000 cases for emission violation in the last six months. "We have decided to intensify the vehicle emission levels in the city following a meeting with chief secretary recently. In the meeting it was observed that the ambient air quality in Chennai has been deteriorating and we have to do something drastic to control air pollution," Ravi said.
Source: The Times of India, Chennai, July 18, 2010.

Tempos on petrol, diesel: The petrol and diesel run tempos plying in the city are a major cause of pollution, but the authorities concerned seem to be oblivious to the fact. In fact, the traffic directorate, Lucknow, had provided two special kits to traffic cops to check the pollution status of vehicles being run on petrol and diesel. But these are gathering dust at the Reserve Police Lines. Commuters feel that there is a need to remove rickety tempos (those running on roads for the past 8 to 10 years) as they are the main cause behind air pollution. Repeated requests and reminders notwithstanding, the traffic police department appears to be least bothered to take the initiative. Moreover, most of the tempos currently plying on different routes have no facility of scrubber -- an effective tool to check emission of pollutants. Besides, a number of tempo drivers reportedly have fake pollution certificates. Traffic inspector, S K Singh claimed the traffic police department would soon initiate measures to warn tempo drivers of strict action against them if their vehicles are found to be causing pollution.
Source: The Times of India, Allahabad, August 4, 2010.

Pollution: Maharashtra sees red, okays green tax: Pay or perish. That’s the state government’s message to old vehicles contributing to the pollution levels in an already-choked city. The state cabinet on Wednesday approved the transport department’s proposal of levying green tax on ‘old’ vehicles. Public and private vehicles, which are eight and 15-years-old, respectively will have to pay green tax between Rs 200-400 every year. The tax on 15-year-old two-wheelers and cars which run on petrol would be Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 for five years, respectively. The five-year tax on diesel cars would be Rs 3,500. Auto rickshaws with a road life of eight years (15 years, if running on CNG) will have to pay Rs 750 as green tax for five years whereas the amount for four, five, and six-seater taxis for the same period would be Rs 1,250. Heavy vehicles acting as passenger buses and goods carriers will have to shell out between 2.5-10 per cent of the annual tax.
Source: Daily News and Analysis, Mumbai, August 5, 2010.

Crackdown on polluting vehicles: The pressure to contain air pollution levels in the city before the Commonwealth Games seems to have sent the government into a tizzy with the transport department going on an overdrive to prosecute vehicles without valid Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates. Chief secretary Rakesh Mehta, too, wrote to the department last month asking for monthly action reports on compliance. Though Delhi seems to be complying the number of vehicles getting PUC testing done has doubled in the last quarter over 10 lakh vehicles coming into the city from National Capital Region (NCR) towns daily are a matter of concern. In the past two months, the transport department has prosecuted a whopping 15,000 vehicles for non-compliance which is perhaps the highest ever seen in such a small span of time in the recent past. The prosecution has also had an impact on the number of vehicle owners getting PUC testing done, which has increased from about 18 lakh annually to almost 36 lakh now, said R K Verma, transport commissioner.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, August 6, 2010.

Govt to phase out polluting vehicles: Nagaland government is seriously contemplating to phase out all commercial vehicles which emit thick smoke and contribute to air pollution. “We will phase out all those vehicles, particularly city buses which emit thick smokes and contribute to air pollution,” said state minister for urban development Dr Shurhozelie Liezietsu, while talking exclusively to Nagaland Post. Dr Shurhozelie also revealed that Kohima Municipal Council had received 25 buses from the union ministry of Urban Development under JNNRUM urban Road and Transport scheme which was delivered to the department by the company. He, however, said the same would not start operation until the formality of constituting the unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) to regulate the city buses as per the guideline from the ministry. The buses would be operated by the KMC.“
Source: Nagaland Post, Kohima, August 13, 2010.

 
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Transportation and traffic
 

Pay more to park in upmarket city areas: Soon, you may have to pay more if you park your vehicle in a upmarket colony. As reported by TOI earlier, the MCD has come out with a new parking policy. It lays down that a colony falling in category A for assessing house tax the proposed car parking charges will be Rs 50 for the first two hours. Car owners will have to cough up Rs 75 more to park there for another two hours and Rs 50 per hour thereafter. Similarly, for category B, a person will be charged Rs 30 for the first two hours and will have to pay Rs 50 if he wants to park for two hours more. In categories C to E, one will have to pay Rs 20 for the first two hours while in categories F to H, one will now have to pay Rs 10 for the same period. While MCD had come up with another formula for calculating parking fees whereby parking at the centre of the city would have been more expensive than parking at the periphery it was turned down by various agencies. The new policy has been formulated to encourage public transport and discourage Delhiites from purchasing private vehicles.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, July 1, 2010.

Eco panel to AP: Shift to CNG for public transport: The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Cure) Authority has threatened to recommend criminal action against commercial establishments that flout parking norms. It has also asked the government to gradually switch over to CNG for public transportation in the state capital. The EPCA chairman, Dr Bhure Lal, and member, Ms Sunita Narain, who are preparing an action plan for improvement of air quality in major cities were in Hyderabad to hold discussions with officials and made these and other recommendations. Dr Lal said he was concerned that commercial establishments were not providing adequate parking for patrons. This leads to heavy congestion which results in high levels of air pollution. The committee also noticed that several commercial establishments have come up in residential localities. Local authorities should punish any violations with regard to parking, the EPCA said.
Source: Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad, July 1, 2010.

Uncertain road ahead for tongawallahs as MCD razes stable at Asaf Ali Marg: Much speculation and protests later, Delhi’s oldest mode of transport, the tongas, have finally fallen to one of the Capital’s many beautification plans ahead of the Commonwealth Games this October. On Saturday morning, a team of officials of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi accompanied by Delhi Police personnel and “adequate equipment”, razed the stable at Asaf Ali Marg, forcing out the 50-odd tongawallahs stationed there. The ‘phaseout’ drive that began on Saturday is not an isolated case. With the civic body now planning to raze all other horse stables in the City zone and the Sadar Paharganj zone within the next three weeks, this spells doom for the vocation that began almost 400 years ago in Delhi. The drive, claim MCD officials, is part of its plan to clean up the Walled City area in time for the Games. There are three more tonga stands operational in Old Delhi — at Minto Road, Hauz Qazi and Kaudiya Bridge.
Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi, July 11, 2010.

Trucks to be kept out of Delhi during Games: The Delhi government may have shied away from banning private vehicles during the Commonwealth Games, but the Capital will be out of bounds for trucks not headed for the city. In its bid to keep the city air clean during the event, the Department of Environment has asked the Department of Power to suspend operations at the Rajghat thermal power plant during the event. “There is already a Court ban on non-destined trucks entering Delhi. But this is not followed. We have written to the MCD and the Transport department to ban these trucks from coming into Delhi,” said Environment Secretary Dharmendra. “Later on, when the East-West corridor opens, we will anyway have these big vehicles skirting Delhi,” he added. His department is also working with the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) to find other ways of keeping pollution down.
Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi, July 13, 2010.

City may have dedicated cycle lanes: Announcing this at the ‘Breathe Easy’ campaign launched by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Wednesday the Principal Secretary to the Transport Department M K Shankarlinge Gowda said a proposal to the effect has been forwarded to BBMP. “There are close to 40 lakh vehicles plying on City’s roads today, while in 1996 it was a mere six lakh vehicles. Of the manifold increase in vehicles, 24 lakh are two-wheelers and 80,000 are autos. Everyday there is an estimated addition of 1,350 vehicles. Thus, there is a dire need to have dedicated cycle lanes to reduce burgeoning increase in vehicles,” said Shankarlinge Gowda. A visible change can be brought about if a large number of motorists switch over to cycles, as a mode of transport, he added. Also speaking, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) Chairman A S Sadashiva said air pollution monitoring equipment have been installed at 15 places in the City. 
Source: Deccan Herald, Bangalore, July 14, 2010.

Now, breathe easy to check pollution: The Karnataka Road Transport Corporation and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) on Wednesday launched Breathe Easy campaign for a pollution-free Bangalore. Under the initiative, both the state departments will join hands with several city-based NGO and IT companies. “The campaign will address issues such as traffic and pollution in the campaign and the focus group will be the masses,” said Pampa Chowdhry, branch head, Concern India Foundation, which is a partner of the campaign. She said the project would include everyone from school students to passersby on the streets and techies. To encourage use of buses, the initiative will also involve distributing more than one lakh road maps that detail routes of BMTC buses. Under the campaign, workshops will be held in IT companies such as Infosys and Wipro. As of now, 60 corporate groups have confirmed their participation. “The city is growing and so is the pollution.
Source: The New Indian Express, Bangalore, July 15, 2010.

Five low-floor AC buses to hit the road today: The much-awaited low-floor AC buses under the JNNURM scheme will take off on Tuesday. UT Advisor Pradip Mehra will flag off five buses from the Secretariat on route number 202; ISBT 43-ISBT-17-Punjab and Haryana High Court at 11 am. The fare for these new AC buses will be similar to the existing mini AC buses at Rs 10 for five kilometres and Rs 15 above that. As per the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking officials, more buses would be added to the fleet as they reach the CTU workshop. A total of 40 AC buses would operate under the JNNURM scheme. “Of the 40 buses, five will ply on the city roads tomorrow. The department had earlier planned to inaugurate these special buses in a grand manner, but due to the sudden demise of one of the senior officials of the department — General Manager III and JNNURM Surinder Kumar Dahiya — it will be a low-key affair,” said CTU Director M L Sharma. As per the plans, more buses to be added would be put on one particular route rather than one bus on each route.
Source: The Indian Express, Chandigarh, July 20, 2010.

Left or right? Door debate rages on: A year after the union government approved the purchase of buses for the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML), the public transport utility and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) continue to engage in controversy over purchase of buses, arguing over the issue of doors in the buses. The union government had sanctioned funds to the two local civic bodies, PMC and the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal corporation (PCMC) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to purchase 550 buses for PMPML. The PMC had submitted a detailed project report (DPR) for the purchase of buses while committing to go for low-floor buses with doors on the left side of the bus. However, the PMPML opted for doors on both sides and floated tenders for the same without informing the civic body. “We cannot violate the DPR by purchasing buses with doors on the right side,” maintained PMC standing committee chairman Arvind Shinde while refusing to transfer the money to PMPML.
Source: The Indian Express, Pune, July 21, 2010.

FSI gift for parking space spells trouble for already choking Mumbai: The government is piling on the problems in an already congested city, adding to the existing pressure on urban infrastructure. Consider this. In a move likely to strain the city further, the state has virtually cleared the decks for the release of an additional buildable area of nearly 87 lakh sq ft. The area will be released to developers in the form of incentive FSI (floor space index, ratio of permissible built-up area vis-a-vis the plot size) for setting up public parking spaces on a portion of their respective plots. Here’s how the figures add up. For every parking space a builder provides, it stands to benefit to the tune of 320 sq ft. Thirty private parties, including those undertaking redevelopment of mill lands in central Mumbai, have undertaken to create 27,088 public parking spaces, an urban development department official said. This translates into the nearly 87 lakh sq ft for commercial exploitation.
Source: Daily News and Analysis, Mumbai, July 26, 2010.

BMTC will get 4,000 new buses to meet increased demand: The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) will get 4,000 new buses in two years. The transport department was planning to strengthen its existing fleet of 6,000 buses to cater to the increasing demand for public transport in the wake of initiatives like the Bus Day, transport minister R Ashoka said on Monday. A survey had established that the number of autos, taxis, cars and motorbikes on roads had come down due to the efficient mass transportation services being provided by BMTC, he claimed. “More than 50 per cent employees in the IT industry use mass transport,” he said. “To make buses more popular, we are introducing internet and television facilities in Volvo buses going to BIAL as a pilot project,” he said. Ashoka said the government was aware of problems being faced by ambulances while attending to emergencies. “We have been apprised of the various problems faced by ambulances when they take serious patients to hospitals.
Source: Daily News and Analysis, Bangalore, July 27, 2010.

It's official: Jaipur Bus' hit Pink City roads: After a successful test run for the past few weeks, the BRTS buses were officially dedicated to the public by Union urban development minister Jaipal Reddy and chief minister Ashok Gehlot at a function on Sikar Road in Muralipura on Saturday. Launching of the Jaipur Bus' was also accompanied by an assurance from the Union minister on another ambitious public transport project, Jaipur Metro, but with conditions. "The Centre will provide its share in the project, but the state government must put all efforts to generate resources at its end," Reddy said. Though the state government recently decided to fund the first phase of the Metro project, Centre's support is vital to compensate the operational losses. Hence, Reddy's assurance comes as a major boost with the state government expected to sign an agreement in this regard with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in next few days.
Source: The Times of India, Jaipur, August 1, 2010.

Delhi govt to ban Blueline buses near C'wealth Games venues from Sep 15: Failing to phase out the Blueline buses ahead of the Commonwealth Games, Delhi government today decided not to allow plying of such vehicles around the venues of the event from September 15. Delhi transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said routes of 1,300 buses will be diverted and only low-floor buses of DTC will be allowed to move around the Games venues from September 15 to October 30. The mega sporting event will be held in the city from October 3 to 14. Currently, 2,800 Blueline buses are operating on over 600 routes in the national capital. The government had earlier said that the Blueline buses will be phased out before the Games. The Delhi high court had directed a phase-out of Blueline buses, after which the city government launched low-floor buses last year. The Delhi Transport Corporation last week had told the court that 911 more low-floor buses would be put on the roads before the Commonwealth Games as part of efforts to improve the transport system in the city.
Source: Daily News and Analysis, New Delhi, August 2, 2010.

Metro may replace BPO day-cabs soon: Top business process outsourcing firms with operations in Delhi-NCR may do away with day-cab services to ferry their employees between Delhi and Gurgaon after metro rail services connected the two cities, to cut operation costs. BPO companies such as Genpact, EXL Service, Vertex among others are planning to replace the existing system with travel allowances for employees and facilitation of metro cards along with shuttle services to-from the nearest metro stations as early as from October. Industry executives estimate companies are likely to save as much as 20 per cent of their transport cost if they curb cab services during the day. An employee would benefit by commuting through metro as it is more comfortable, convenient and timesaving, said Vidya Srinivasan senior vice president (infrastructure & logistics) at Genpact. “The intent is to introduce practical and efficient changes in the current transport system,” she said.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, August 5, 2010.

Single ticket for BRTS, metro likely: The metro and BRTS ride will be possible on a single ticket. DMRC chairman also known as Metro man', E shreedharan said an authority will have to be formed for coordinating the movement of BRTS and metro to provide better integrated public transport services. "An integrated authority has been proposed to operate the BRTS and metro. It will be needed to provide better coordination between the transport services," said Sreedharan. At present, the BRTS is operational in 10 routes in the city and its approach will be soon extended to cover outskirts areas of the city. The BRTS is unable to provide fast connectivity inside the congested areas. However, the metro will have no constrains of road space and will help bridge the gap. The two proposed corridors of the Jaipur Metro will intersect at the Sindhi Camp bus stand enabling the passengers to travel through metro between the 27 proposed metro stations.
Source: The Times of India, Jaipur, August 6, 2010.

Activists do not buy civic body’s comprehensive mobility plan: Pedestrians First, an organisation working for the resolution of traffic and transport problems of the city, has submitted its objections to the Pune Municipal Corporation’s Comprehensive Mobility Plan(CMP) for the city. Prashant Inamdar, convenor of Pedestrians First, said the final version of the CMP has been recently posted on the PMC’s website. “We are not aware of the exact ‘Terms of reference’ for the preparation of CMP. We have studied the final CMP and have recently submitting our comments and suggestions to PMC chief and the mayor,” he said. Inamdar said the CMP has recommended flyovers at certain locations but has made various stipulations of vital importance. He said among the suggestions include: while providing flyover, it is very important that it doesn’t result in traffic levels going up; any effort at building a flyover must be simultaneously accompanied by vastly improved public transport and NMT infrastructure; if flyovers are to be taken up at any intersection, they must be preceded by a thorough evaluation of alternative options.
Source: The Indian Express, Pune, August 7, 2010.

BBMP’s solution for traffic jams: Ban malls: The lesser malls, the better it would be for Bangalore’s traffic. Find that amusing? Well, that’s exactly how Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is going to solve traffic pile-ups. In fact, the civic agency is seriously thinking about banning new malls. “It has been observed that every new mall coming up in the city is creating traffic chaos like never before. The recent one is in Malleswaram because of which the traffic management has gone into a tizzy there,” said a senior BBMP official. BBMP mayor SK Nataraj on Friday stressed on the urgency to curtail the growth of malls. “We are writing letters to all the existing malls to provide details on their parking facilities and the number of vehicles that can be accommodated there. We are planning to bring in a regulation related to the growth of new malls in the city,” he said. BBMP officials said the main problem with malls is their neglect of providing adequate parking space.
Source: Daily News and Analysis, Mumbai, August 7, 2010.

Absence of depots, poor roads hamper low-floor bus services: To make commuting easy for the people, the UP State Roadways Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) had recently started plying new buses on various routes, but the absence of depots is affecting the services of these new buses. The officials are still planning to develop a section of Fazalganj area for the shelter of buses, but no final decision has yet been taken. The reason is that the Kanpur Development Authority (KDA) and Kanpur Nagar Nigam (KNN) have not allocated any land for the construction of bus depots. The UPSRTC has received 199 buses including air-conditioned, non air-conditioned and others, under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Out of these, only 123 are presently plying on roads. In the absence of depots, the buses are operating from Vikas Nagar bus depot. According to sources, due to lack of area for parking the buses, the buses are being parked on roads these days.
Source: The Times of India, Kanpur, August 8, 2010.

Delhi launches eco-friendly rickshaw ahead of Games: Delhi on Tuesday launched battery- operated rickshaws, sponsored by telecom major Vodafone Essar as part its eco-friendly initiative ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit flagged off the eco friendly vehicle, E-rick, each costing about Rs 1.5 lakh. In the first phase, the company will sponsor 25 vehicles on five routes, including Chandni Chowk, Saket, IIT-SDA market area, GK-II and Delhi University-North Campus, Vodafone told reporters here. However, the company did not give the number of vehicles it would most probably increase during the Commonwealth Games to be held here in October this year. "There is a need for collaborative efforts to make Delhi a pollution-free zone. We have always been conscious about environmental issues and hence are supportive of such initiative which would help ensure a healthier and greener city," Dikshit said.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, August 10, 2010.

Govt taking it too FAR, say RWAs: Calling it a "disaster", resident welfare associations (RWAs) have expressed serious apprehensions about Delhi government's plan to increase FAR (floor-area ratio) along the MRTS and major transport corridors such as the BRT. According to the government, the increased FAR will facilitate planned development in such areas and help in redevelopment keeping in view the special character of localities. Even as the government said this will help overcome unplanned congestion, RWAs feel the increased FAR will only lead to more congestion in the city. Krishan Mitroo, a resident of Panchsheel Enclave, said, "If the FAR is increased, there will be more builder activity leading to further vertical expansion of the city. Most colonies are already congested and don't even have the required parking space. People will add to the number of existing floors and it will further push up the number of vehicles in colonies."
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, August 10, 2010.

SC panel allows DTC buses to go up to Terminal 3: Delhi International Airport (P) Ltds (DIAL) proposal to stop all DTC buses near Centaur Hotel and ferry passengers to and from Terminal 3 in special feeder buses has been shot down by the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA). The committee said buses cannot be stopped from going all the way up to the terminal and DIAL has promised to work out a mechanism to make place for them at the new airport. EPCA sources said they had been approached by Delhi Transport Commission (DTC) to intervene after DIAL started stopping their buses near Centaur Hotel, citing problems of congestion. We told DIAL officials that if they feel that the airport approach is crowded, they should limit the number of personal cars instead. By stopping buses much before the terminal and making passengers change vehicles with their heavy bags, they would only discourage people from taking buses to the airport, said Bhure Lal, EPCA chairman.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, August 11, 2010.

It takes will power to plug pedal power: The roads of Bangalore are like huge funnels narrowing to impenetrable bottlenecks. Lakhs of us have to endure daily congestion, our misery compounded by the toxic cocktail of automobile exhaust as we inch along through traffic jams. So, would a cycling lane splitting and further reducing precious road space, be a solution to the traffic woes of the city? At least this was what was suggested by Transport Secretary M.K. Shankaralinge Gowda to the civic authorities at the recent Breathe Easy campaign. Mr. Gowda had urged laying of bicycle tracks on arterial roads to reduce congestion. A laudable idea on all counts, but is it feasible? A dipstick survey by The Hindu suggested that a lot more would be required for the able and willing to be pedalling about in earnest. It takes a lot for the city to put in place safe cycling tracks. As Khalandar Khan, Transport Planner in the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) explained: “The roads should be a minimum 30 metres wide for cycling tracks to be feasible.
Source: The Hindu, August 12, 2010.

Marred by delays, Delhi comes clean on air: While most other projects might be behind schedule, Delhi seems to have things under control as far as pollution levels during the Games are concerned, at least for now. What works for the city is that unlike China for instance, Delhi had already put into place pollution mitigation measures before it was decided to hold the Games here. It also has an elaborate plan to ensure that pollution levels come down further by October. However, experts say that October is a difficult month for Delhi with pollution levels starting to rise with the onset of winter and it is essential that it has a back-up plan, preferably with regard to its vehicular population since it is single-handedly undoing the benefits that have been derived from other pollution control methods. Anumita Roychoudhury, director of Centre for Science and Environments Right to Clean Air Programme says Delhi has an advantage over other cities as it is extremely green and already has a plan of action in place. We have analysed the pollution data for October 2009 and seen that there have been several days when levels of pollutants were more than permissible.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, August 12, 2010.

With new law, rickshaws all set to run across city: The Draft Delhi Cycle Rickshaw Act 2010 being jointly prepared by Delhi’s three civic bodies will allow cycle-rickshaws to ply all over the city. This manual mode of public transport had so far been restricted to Delhi’s Walled city and a handful of residential colonies. Except the national highways and Ring Roads and the areas marked by ‘No Entry’ signs under the Delhi Master Plan 2021, the cycle-rickshaw will become ubiquitous on all arterial roads —- in the 12 zones under the MCD, the Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB), and the NDMC. Following a recent High Court order, which ruled that the MCD’s policy of limiting the number of cycle-rickshaws in the city was unconstitutional, the draft Act proposes that “there shall be no quota limiting the number of cycle-rickshaws that can be registered. These numbers shall be solely determined by the demand, carrying capacity of colony roads and availability of parking space”.
Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi, August 27, 2010.

Auto-rickshaws to ply near Delhi IGI's terminal 3: Passengers can travel on auto-rickshaws up to a point near the new Terminal-3 (T3) of the Indira Gandhi International airport here, airport officials said Tuesday. "As auto-rickshaws are used in the capital, we have advised the Delhi police and other agencies to allow auto-rickshaws till Centaur hotel from where we will provide complimentary shuttle service to T3," Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) official told media. The swanky new terminal will commence full-scale International operations from Wednesday with the first flight of Air-India arriving from New York at 1645 hrs. "T3 has a good approach road with eight lanes. There will also be people on the ground to guide the passengers towards T3, plus all the road signs and hoardings are also in place," the official added. The sixth largest passenger terminal in the world also has the largest multi-level car parking facility in the country which can accommodate 4,300 cars.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, July 27, 2010.

More of pvt transport, less of public modes: More number of people in the city are hopping off the public modes of transport and jumping on to cars and bikes, says a comprehensive study on traffic and transportation by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA). The dependence on public modes of transport like bus, trains and autos has come down by almost half and the preference towards private modes has shot up in a span of 38 years — 1970 to 2008. (The recession-hit period of 2009-2010 — when people thought it prudent to lock up cars in garages and try out the buses and trains — is not included in the study period.) According to the study, the percentage of Chennaiites using railways for moving around was 12 per cent in 1970. In 2008 it came down to 5 per cent. Similarly, the share of buses tumbled from 42 per cent in 1970 to 26 per cent in 2008. In between, count of private vehicles rose manifold.
Source: The Times of India, Chennai, August 29, 2010.

Book parking space before car: Want to buy a car? Get a garage first. This is what the Sikkim transport department has told residents of the state where, as almost everywhere in India, cars parked along roads choke traffic. The department issued a notification this month making it mandatory for buyers to produce an availability-of-parking-space certificate before they can get their vehicles registered. Consumer rights and automobile industry sources described the rule as a first in the country and said it might not stand the test of a legal challenge. “This notification, which has come into effect from July 7 this year, is only for new vehicles. Everyone is aware of the traffic problems in Sikkim, especially Gangtok,” a motor vehicles department official said. In urban areas, the superintendent of police in charge of traffic has been mandated to issue the certificates after physical verification of the parking space.
Source: The Telegraph, Kolkata, July 29, 2010.

 
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In Court
 

Limit vehicle registration: HC: Enlarging the scope of a petition regarding lack of space for vehicles on Punjab and Haryana High Court premises to the problem of limited parking area in Chandigarh, justice Hemant Gupta of HC has asked UT administration if it had the land needed for the number of new automobiles it registered every month. The judge asked UT standing counsel to examine as to how many cars were put on city’s roads each month and whether there was any transport policy relating number of vehicles with parking space that was available. Justice Gupta said that there had to be some check on the increasing automobile registrations in the city. He said there could be rules restricting registration of more than one car in the name of an individual. The observations came in a hearing related to a petition filed by advocate Ranjan Lakhanpal seeking contempt proceedings against UT home secretary and SSP for not taking substantive steps to deal with HC premises’ parking problem.
Source: The Times of India, Chandigarh, July 28, 2010.

SC refuses to cap number of rickshaws in Delhi: Cycle rickshaws can ply in the national capital without any curb on their number, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday. The apex court also lambasted the government for being anti-poor. The court asked the government why it was not limiting the vehicles and was instead targeting the poor. The Supreme Court has upheld the Delhi High Court ruling on this issue. Previously, Delhi High Court had ruled that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi's policy of limiting the number of cycle rickshaws was unconstitutional. This verdict represents a key step in defending the right to the road for all forms of transportation – not just autos – and protecting the livelihoods of some of India's most disadvantaged populations. MCD capped the number of licenses to operate cycle rickshaws at 100,000. Additionally, it had limited the areas where cycle rickshaws could circulate, granted licenses only to cycle rickshaw owners, and allowed the confiscation and destruction of cycle rickshaws that violated the laws.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, August 6, 2010.

 
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South Asian countries
 

China to invest heavily in hybrid cars: The Chinese government, determined to become a world leader in green technology, says it plans to invest billions of dollars over the next few years to develop electric and hybrid vehicles. The government said a group of 16 big state-owned companies had already agreed to form an alliance to do research and development, and create standards for electric and hybrid vehicles. The plan aims to put more than a million electric and hybrid vehicles on the road over the next few years in what is already the world’s biggest and fastest growing auto market. The announcement, analysts say, is another example of how China seeks to marshal resources and tackle industries and new markets. The plan also underlines what China describes as its growing commitment to combating pollution and reducing carbon emissions. According to some reports by state-run media, Beijing intends to invest nearly $15 billion in the venture, which if true would make it one of the world’s most ambitious attempts to develop more energy-efficient vehicles. The bold plan was announced late Wednesday by one of China’s most powerful bodies: the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.
Source: The Times of India, August 21, 2010.

 

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