Cities evolving fiscal measures to curb vehicular pollution

Several cities in India including Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, have begun to take steps to implement fiscal measures to address the problem of air pollution and congestion.

Though still very nascent, this is a unique and a very important step forward to use market based instrument to influence consumer behaviour and stimulate investments in pollution control efforts and clean technologies. All big change cost a lot of money. Fiscal measures can help to cushion the cost of transformation, -- improve fuels and technologies and influence people to choose more sustainable travel options like public transport. These measures can also help to generate revenue to fund pollution control and congestion reduction measures.

Though still very nascent these new policy initiatives have begun to take roots. These fiscal measures can enable rapid introduction of clean fuels and technologies and create fiscal incentives for public transport. The cities that have taken the lead in this regard include Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Bangalore and Hyderabad. These cities have evolved different models of policy framework that show wide variation in their structure and focus.

The key focus of the fiscal measures are clean fuels and technologies including CNG, LPG and zero emissions technologies; disincentives for older vehicles; and creation of dedicated fund from taxes on polluting fuels to pay for pollution control efforts.

However, it is important to note that so far cities have not implemented fiscal policies to promote public transport usage and implementation. Even though the National Urban Transport Policy has provided for such measures actual implementation at the city level is still tardy. This will require urgent intervention.