Smog Digest | Centre for Science and Environment


Smog Digest

July 2013

 

 
 
Air pollution in Indian cities
 
PM10, NOx level high in Gurgaon: In what could be termed as alarming, the levels of two key pollutants - respirable particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) - in Gurgaon are higher as compared to adjoining cities. Other cities, including Faridabad, Panchkula and Rohtak, have comparative lower level but higher than safe levels and pose a danger to public health. According to data released by pollution control board, the average PM10 in the month of January was 246.05 micrograms per cubic metre, which more than the standard limit of 100. Similarly, the level of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) was 141 micrograms per cubic metre which is nearly double the prescribed standard of 80 micrograms/cubic metre. In Panchkula and Rohtak, the PM10 levels are 134 and 268 respectively while NOx is around 51 and 14 micrograms per cubic metre. In Faridabad, the NOx level was 158, even higher than Gurgaon.

Source: The Times of India, Gurgaon, April 23, 2013.

 
Pollution levels increase in city: With the increase in number of vehicles and frequent traffic jams at major junctions of the city, the air pollution levels are increasing year by year forcing people’s health into danger. The major areas and road junctions that witness high air pollution in the city are Auto Nagar, Benz Circle, police control room junction, and Eluru Road and Bandar Road. The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) data from Benz Circle and Auto Nagar monitoring stations during the last three years has identified a consistent growth in the air pollution with lot of dust particles in the air. The respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) is recorded as 95.2 micro grams per cubic meters last year, which was only 61.3 in 2009 and it might be nearer to 100, which is standard limit by the year ending 2013. The APPCB officials cite that increase in traffic is more contributing to increase in dust levels as well as carbon monoxide levels in the air.

Source:Deccan Chronicle, Vijaywada, April 26, 2013.

 
NE witnessing rapid increase in air pollution: The national air quality review carried out by the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shows that the States in the North- eastern region are witnessing rapid increase in air pollution and untamed motorisation. “They need urgent action to leapfrog vehicle technology, scale up public transport, integrate multi-modal transport options, and encourage car restraint, walking and cycling”, says a statement of CSE. Growing congestion is crippling in Northeastern cities, it added. The Northeastern States together have 2.7 million registered vehicles. Assam claims the largest vehicle share (59 pc), followed by Nagaland (10 pc), Manipur (7.7 pc), Tripura (7 pc). Meghalaya (6.4 pc), Arunachal Pradesh (5.4 pc), Mizoram (3.4 pc) and Sikkim with the lowest vehicle fleet (1.4 pc), says CSE quoting official records. There are only three bus transport undertakings in this region with 0.1 per cent of the total fleet strength operated by State run transport services.

Source: The Assam Tribune, Guwahati, May 11, 2013.

 
Pollution cocktail: Fresh bane to State's air: Amidst the recent shocker from the global burden of disease estimates that one fifth of global deaths occur due to outdoor air pollution in India, it is only evident that the State hasn't been spared either with recent extreme climatic phenomenon making its appearance often than not. The winter smog that disrupted flights and exposed commuters to mishaps last December in Imphal andr Churachandpur; the hailstorm that turned the landscape of Churachandpur into a sea of white barely a week back and many other such phenomenon have indicated that the State now have particulate matter levels much higher than the standard acceptance. At a recent briefing of scribes of the region, the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has claimed that despite the limited air quality monitoring in the States of the North East region, 68 per cent of the cities they monitored have particulate matter (PM) levels higher than the standard level.

Source: E-Pao, Lamka, May 13, 2013.

 
Rising vehicle no. spurring pollution: Vehicle ownership in Chandigarh is not only higher than mega cities like Delhi, but also equals that of the rich cities of the western world. The Centre of Science and Environment ( CSE), the New Delhi-based research and advocacy body, laid bare the challenge of addressing the perils of motorization in an affluent city like Chandigarh. Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE's executive director-researcnh and advocacy, and head of its 'Right to Clean Air'campaign, says: "This is mainly because the template of its town planning has focused on how to allow motor vehicles access and speed. This pro-car urban design is making people captive users of personal vehicles." For a long time, Chandigarh did not have to worry about air pollution. But over the years, its air quality trends have started showing a reversal of the initial gains. There is no polluting industry inside Chandigarh, but vehicle numbers are growing rapidly, adding to tailpipe emissions.

Source: The Times of India, Chandigarh, May 25, 2013.

 
Charbagh most polluted in Lucknow: Charbagh is the most polluted area in Lucknow, says a report published by Indian Institute of Toxicology Research on Wednesday to coincide with the World Environment Day. The study, carried out in nine locations of the state capital, showed Charbagh having the highest average level of respirable particulate matter (RSPM), sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen among all the locations. The area also has the highest level of night-time noise and second highest lead concentration, next to Amausi industrial area. As per the the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), the prescribed permissible limit of RSPM is 100 micrograms per cubic metre. However, the average at almost all the locations was about twice this limit. Charbagh had RSPM of 253.66 while Amausi industrial area clogged an RSPM figure of 224.29 micrograms per cubic metre.

Source: The Indian Express, Lucknow, June 6, 2013.

 
Sharp dip in City's ambient air quality: The deadliest pollutant in Bangalore’s air, the Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) has gone up to an astounding 200 to 300 per cent of the permissible limits. Latest (2012-13) figures disclosed by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) show that the dangerous concoction of explosive vehicular growth, ceaseless construction and suspended dust particles, has dramatically pushed up the RSPM values far beyond the national limit of 60.0 µg/m3 (micro gram per cubic meter). Sample these chilling statistics: The RSPM at the KHB Industrial Area, Yelahanka stands at a staggering 182 µg/m3, up from 72.0µg/m3 recorded in 2010-11. In the vicinity of AMCO Batteries on Mysore road, the RSPM value recorded for 2012-13 was 169, a considerable jump from 58 recorded just a year ago! KSPCB arrived at these disturbing figures after monitoring ambient air quality in 12 locations across the City.

Source: Deccan Herald, Bangalore, June 28, 2013.

 
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Health impacts
 
To stay fit, cycle or walk to work: Study: People who walked or cycled to work had a better chance of keeping chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and high BP at bay, says a recent study. Researchers from the Public Health Foundation of India and London's Imperial College looked at the health parameters of 4,000 male workers - 1,366 rural and 2,536 urban - and the way they travelled to work, to reach this conclusion. Rural workers who cycled or walked to work were healthier than those who had their own transport or took the bus to work in urban areas. Cities with their car lanes and gadgets for reducing daily workload could adversely affect people's health. "Our study shows that mechanized world does harm your heart,'' said epidemiologist Sutapa Agrawal from the Public Health Foundation of India. Consider Mumbai, where people dial services to receive every essential item—be it grocery, medicines or food at home.

Source: The Times of India, Mumbai, June 16, 2013.

 
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Fuel and vehicle technology
 
New fuel emission norms: Auto, oil firms continue blame game: The Government’s clean fuel programme or Bharat Stage-IV norms that came into effect from April 1, 2010 is still facing problems. Even as the Government is working on a new automotive fuel emission norms to be introduced in the next few years, the blame game continues among the stakeholders – oil and auto companies with the Bharat Stage-IV norms. Automobile manufacturers say their readiness will depend on how prepared the oil companies are with new fuel grades. The oil companies, on the other hand, say the opposite. The programme was to be implemented in phases, with a target of bringing over 50 cities by 2015 using cleaner petrol and diesel. The Bharat Stage-IV norms were rolled out in 13 identified cities on April 1, 2010, in line with the roadmap laid down in the Auto Fuel Policy, instead of an All-India launch, as only a few oil refineries were providing the required fuel grade.

Source: Business Line, New Delhi, May 8, 2013.

 
Bajaj revamps passenger three-wheelers: Bajaj Auto today launched a new range of passenger three-wheelers, with improved mileage, changed styling and lower maintenance costs. Called the RE-Compact, the new range would replace the company’s existing range of three-wheelers. Initially, the company plans to launch seven variants on this three-wheeler platform, with petrol, compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas options. In two to three months, it would add a diesel engine to this line-up. The new three-wheelers are available in two- and four-stroke versions. The RE-Compact range is priced at a premium of Rs 1,500-2,000 over the existing range. The company has extended its digital twin-spark ignition (DTS-i) technology, developed for motorcycles, to the new three-wheeler range. This has resulted in a 10-15 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency, compared to the existing range. R C Maheshwari, president (commercial vehicles), said, “There are issues in urban areas such as congestion and pollution. The new range will address issues such as fuel-efficiency and maintenance…

Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, June 14, 2013.

 
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Alternative Fuels
 
GSPC hikes CNG prices by Rs 2 per kg : Auto gas has become costlier in Gujarat as the state-owned gas distribution player, GSPC Gas Company has hiked the compressed natural gas (CNG) prices by Rs 2 per kg with effect from Wednesday. CNG to cost Rs 62.15 per kg in Gujarat against Rs 60.15 a kg earlier, the company official stated. The company officials attributed the gas price hike to high cost of imported LNG due to weakening of rupee. Last revision in the CNG prices was made on April 19, 2013. The company is also contemplating an increase in the piped natural gas (PNG), for its different categories of consumers. PNG costs in the range of Rs 21.50 to Rs 40 per standard cubic meter (scm) in Guajrat. GSPC had earlier stated that in spite of several representations made by the State Government and repeated requests by GSPC Gas Company Ltd to the Centre, there has been no allocation of cheaper domestic gas by the Central Government. This led the company to depend entirely on imported natural gas.

Source : Business Standard, Ahmedabad, June 18, 2013.

 
Only 4 CNG stations for 50,000 vehicles: With the ever-increasing number of private vehicles using natural gas, the demand for CNG filling stations too has increased. The district authorities though have not been able to keep pace and have failed to allocate sites for these pumps. Currently there are only four CNG stations in the city — Sector 22, Sector 29, Sector 44, Sector 53. The fifth one at the bus depot, but this is meant exclusively for buses in the depot buses. All of them are open 24 hours and their capacity is 25,000kg per day (with two compressors) and on an average it caters to about 25,000 cars; 6,500 autos, 1,500 buses. In some vastly-populated areas like Sohna Road, there is not even a single CNG pump and only two petrol pumps. "The Sohna Road is over five kilometre long with over 1.5 lakh residents living in the vicinity. According to the latest government figures, everyday around 50,000 vehicles ply on this road and still there is no CNG facility.

Source : The Times of India, Gurgaon, June 26, 2013.

 
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In-use vehicles
 
5,000 four-wheelers to be checked today: Around 5,000 four-wheelers will be inspected in the city on Wednesday as a part of a 'clean air campaign' to promote clean environment and health by educating motorists. The drive is to be conducted by the Nashik unit of Bosch Ltd with the help of the regional transport office (RTO), the traffic police and other like minded agencies and educational institutions. Commercial head of the Nashik plant of Bosch Ltd H B Thontesh said, "Vehicular pollution has become a major matter of concern today. Controlling emissions and protecting environment are the two challenges before us. Considering this, we are launching a day-long campaign to create public awareness about the harmful effects of vehicular pollution on health and environment. As part of this, around 5,000 four-wheelers will be inspected at eight locations across the city."

Source: The Times of India, Nashik, June 26, 2013.

 
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Transportation and traffic
 
It’s a greener route to work: In his quest for alternate technology, Chennai’s ‘Go Green Commando’ has finally captured the industry with his new and innovative concept of the eco friendly cab, which is now ready to be on the roads. The management graduate Sivaraj Muthuraman has been working on it for four years and is now set to bring the cab, designed along similarly environment-friendly lines for the benefit of commuters. “The eco cab or the modern version of the cycle rickshaw draws power from solar energy. Are you thinking 'what would happen during monsoons or what if the battery runs low’,” asks the excited young innovator, anticipating such doubts. The vehicle is designed to run on pedal power, the pedals being connected to the motors, and can be kicked into action during an emergency. Being lightweight — it weighs less than 120 kg — pedalling is much less tiring.

Source: Deccan Chronicle, June 14, 2013.

 
Soon, pay to park on Thane roads: Parking vehicles on the road will soon invite a small fee as the Thane Municipal Corporation is close to finalizing a parking policy for private vehicles. The policy aims to end unregulated parking and misuse of public spaces. Initially the plan would be flagged off on 177 internal roads in Thane, including Naupada and Kopri. Parking slots are being made to accommodate 9,855 vehicles, including 4,571 two-wheelers, 2,242 four-wheelers and 2,703 three-wheelers. Efforts will also be made to take possession of the 27 plots reserved for parking. Besides, private plots that are used for parking will be regularized and incentivized. Mahesh Nawar, a Vasant Vihar resident, said his car had been stolen within weeks of purchase. "There is no parking slot available inside our society. The police registered an FIR and but later declared that the vehicle was untraceable.

Source: The Times of India, Thane, June 15, 2013,

 
A few pedestrian questions: Have you ever noticed a footpath? Does it even exist? And if it does, what is its height above the road? What should be the ideal height that enables pedestrians to walk without the fear of being run over or breaking a leg clambering onto the footpath and, at the same time, doesn't allow cars to park and take over this public space? Why am I asking these rather pedestrian questions? Because, quite frankly, these are the questions we need to answer. The only way our cities can crawl out of the quagmire of vehicles and pollution is to promote public transport systems at a scale and pace nobody has done or seen. The fact is our cities, with bumper-to-bumper traffic and dangerous levels of air toxins, have - believe it or not - only just begun to motorise. People do not move in cars in our cities, even if choked roads give that impression.

Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, June 16, 2013.

 
With FM radios, seat belts and newspapers, city’s ‘modern’ cycle rickshaws armed to pamper residents: After AC cabs and tuk-tuk auto rickshaws, very soon modernised cycle rickshaws will also be at your doorstep, just with a phone call. Fazilka Eco-cabs with support from the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh will be inaugurating the Eco-cab system on the occasion of its 5th anniversary in the city on June 25 at the Sukhna Lake. Initially five Eco-cabs will be introduced that day. Navdeep Asija, founder of the NGO named Graduates Welfare Association, Fazilka says, "I initiated this project to improve the accessibility of cycle rickshaws to the residents of Chandigarh by means of direct-dial-a-rickshaw facility. Above all it is the best means to protect environment. I wanted to bridge the gap between demand and supply need of para-transit mode as a public transport using latest transportation and technological tools."

Source: The Indian Express, Chandigarh, June 24, 2013.

 
Proposal for multi-level parking lot evokes protest: Members of the Tax Payers Association and environmentalists are up in arms against the multi-level car parking facility proposed by the Calicut Development Authority (CDA) at Link Road near the railway station. The tax payers association is planning to submit a memorandum to the CDA chairman against the proposal saying that setting up a multi-level parking-cum-commercial complex at the land acquired for the construction of a park cannot be justified. The CDA acquired land in 1983 from Poyil Kalyanikutty Amma for a children's park. However, the park set up at the site was closed down in mid-1990's owing to the activities of anti-social elements. Though the site was later used for exhibition and eateries, it was closed down following public protest. The city corporation laid the foundation stone for the modular parking system across 21 cents at Link Road in 2010 after CDA properties were attached by the civic body.

Source: The Times of India, Kozhikode, June 24, 2013.

 
Plan to free up choked Vikas Marg: The Delhi government is planning to redevelop on-street parking along Vikas Marg and provide multimodal transport integration near Delhi Metro stations. Delhi Development Authority, along with the Public Works Department, will also designate spaces for auto-rickshaw, cycle-rickshaw and cycle stands with zones earmarked for parking in order to decongest the area. The plan, tenders for which are expected to be floated soon, will be undertaken by DDA and PWD. Ashok Bhattacharya of UTTIPEC, the umbrella traffic and transport infrastructure planning body, said, "While PWD will redevelop the on-street parking and provide crossings for pedestrians within 100m of bus stops, DDA will undertake the stack parking and projects related to zones for para-transit." The plan, which has got approval from UTTIPEC, will free up the lanes of the 45m wide Vikas Marg, which is the arterial road for east Delhi.

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, June 26, 2013.

 
Green signal for constituting new transport authority: The state government has given the green light to constitute an Urban Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) for Kochi. In an orderissued in this regard, the government has stated that Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) managing director will be the chairman of the new authority, while Ernakulam district collector will be the secretary. UMTA will unify public transport systems in the city with common 'command and control' system for transport planning and scheduling operations, thus integrating various modes of transport like waterways, private buses, KSRTC, autorickshaws, metro rail and the like. As per the directive the city police commissioner, Ernakulam rural SP, KSRTC managing director, area manager southern railway, secretaries of Kochi corporation, Greater Cochin Development Authority, municipalities of Aluva, Thrikkakara, Tripunithura, Kalamassery and Choornikarapanchayat, regional transport officer and district transport officer from Ernakulam, director of state water transport department, and National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) director will be members of UMTA.

Source: The Times of India, Kochi, June 28, 2013.

 
Bicycle sharing system, an answer to pollution woes: Riding a bicycle seems to be a thrilling quest. When a boy learns it thoroughly he thinks that he is the “hero” of his street. He rides from one street to another and knows almost all the shortcuts of his area like the back of his hands. It is a wonderful sight when a father runs behind his son ensuring that his son does not fall. But all the excitement seems to vanish when the child reaches his teenage. He tries to fit into the fast-moving world around him and eventually forgets his old friend, the bicycle, and prefers a bike, car or others. It eventually causes pollution. With the advent of motorcycles and cars, the level of pollution is also increasing. Though the transition from bicycle to bike or car is common in most of the cities and towns in India, the phenomenon is deeply entrenched in Puducherry. As per the 2011 census, the population of Puducherry is 9,46,600.

Source: The Hindu, Puducherry, June 29, 2013.

 
Hybrid buses to roll out: London has it, several cities in America have them and so do Singapore and China closer home. Now hybrid electric buses are set to ply on Indian roads too in a big way. The urban development ministry plans to fund hybrid buses — that use a combination of electric battery and diesel engine — as part of the next lot of buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). During the budget session, finance minister P. Chidambaram had announced that the Centre would fund 10,000 buses under the mission. The ministry has not put a cap on the number of hybrid buses, as it will depend on proposals coming from states, but officials said they may not exceed 50. While normal low-floor buses cost between Rs 60 lakh and Rs 70 lakh, hybrid buses — which are more fuel-efficient than normal buses — cost around Rs 1.25 crore.

Source: The Telegraph, Calcutta, June 30, 2013.

 
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In Court
 
HC orders notice to authorities on PIL on GAIL project: Madras High Court today ordered issue of notice to authorities including Petroleum Ministry and Transport Department secretaries and GAIL CMD on a petition seeking direction to Tamil Nadu government on taking steps for implementation of gas pipeline laying work in the state. Petitioner S Tamizharasan, President, Consumer Rights Protection Committee, said Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Authority had given authorisation to Gas Authority of India Ltd for laying the network which would pave way for Southern Gas Grid and people of the state would be benefited in numerous ways including industrial development. He sought a direction to the state government to take necessary steps for implementation of Kochi-Kottanad-Bangalore -Mangalore gas pipeline laying work. Once the pipeline was laid all the public transport vehicles in the state would get converted to use green fuel.

Source: The Economic Times, Madurai, June 14.

 
Gujarat HC dismisses PIL opposing BRTS on Ashram Road: Gujarat high court has turned down a PIL against the proposed plan on part of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to ply the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) on the Ashram Road of the city. The bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala commented that the court cannot decide in which area the local buses should be plied. The court's view led the petitioner to withdraw his PIL. Advocate Kiran Pandit had filed the PIL claiming that the idea of BRTS has been a flop one in the western countries, but the elected members and the bureaucrats have been imposing the failed model on citizens of Ahmedabad. The petition stated that it has been a fashion of late to visit foreign countries and adapt their models in our towns without applying mind. This is also an outcome of blatant corrupt practice. Advocate Pandit had submitted that the introduction of BRTS by way of dedicating two lanes to a comparatively costly bus service would not only cause traffic problem, but would also make it impossible for the private vehicles to ply on the main road of the city.

Source: The Times of India, Ahmedabad, June 28, 2013

 
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  • Air pollution is the fifth largest killer and seventh biggest illness burden in India as estimated by the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report. The speed at which urban air pollution is growing across our cities is alarming. Severe particulate pollution and newer pollutants like nitrogen oxides, ozone and air toxics are worsening the public health challenge. Vehicles are a special challenge as these are the fastest growing sources of air pollution. Vehicles emit close to our breathing zone and contribute significantly to human exposure.

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