CSE along with Jaipur Development Authority organised citizens' dialogue on air quality and mobility challenges in Jaipur

Jaipur’s air pollution has reached a ‘critical’ level, says latest CSE analysis

Growing vehicle numbers and resultant congestion to blame

  • Rapidly growing number of vehicles may undo any gains the city might have made – vehicle numbers growing at a rate of 10 per cent per annum. More vehicles per 1,000 people than even Delhi

  • Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi has analysed air quality data in Jaipur, and found rising levels of particulate and nitrogen oxide pollution

  • CSE releases its findings at a city-level dialogue conducted in association with the Jaipur Development Authority

  • Massive congestion: average journey speed has plummeted to 21 kmph and even slower on some stretches

  • CSE puts forth an action agenda

Jaipur, October 9, 2012: About 88 per cent of residents of Jaipur believe that the city’s air pollution levels have worsened, finds a citizen’s survey conducted by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). And this belief has a sound basis, says CSE.

The New Delhi-based research and advocacy body has done a comprehensive analysis of all data related to Jaipur’s air quality, and has found that PM10 (particulate matter less than 10 micron in size) levels have been consistently increasing in the city – these are now about 2.8 times higher than the standard. This has brought Jaipur into the critical air pollution bracket – as per the air quality classification of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Most of this pollution has been generated by Jaipur's burgeoning motor vehicle population. The city already has about 1.8 million vehicles and adds nearly 400 vehicles a day to its existing fleet. Vehicles are growing at a rate of about 10 per cent per annum, with cars increasing at a faster rate than two-wheelers. In fact, Jaipur has more vehicles per 1,000 people than even Delhi: 551, compared to Delhi’s 332.

Road availability is consistently falling in the city. While road capacity has increased by at least 33 per cent, vehicle ownership has grown by 58 per cent between 2007 and 2011 – massive congestion is the result. On many arterial roads, the traffic volume has exceeded the designed capacity and service level of the road. More than 60 per cent of Jaipur’s roads are now used for parking – highest among big cities.

These alarming data were part of the results of the survey and analysis which CSE released here today at a dialogue to address Jaipur’s air quality and transportation challenges. The dialogue was conducted in association with the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA). Among the panelists who participated were Virendra Beniwal, Rajasthan’s minister of transport; Kuldeep Ranka, commissioner, JDA; Jyoti Khandelwal, the mayor of Jaipur; Mahesh Joshi, member of Parliament; K K Bhatnagar, chairperson, State Commission on Urbanization; and Virendra Singh, professor and superintendent, SMS Hospital, Jaipur.

Bhure Lal, chairperson of the Supreme Court’s Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), delivered the valedictory.

Said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy, CSE and head of its air pollution control and transportation programme: “This meeting has been organised to find solutions to the scary air pollution and mobility challenges facing Jaipur. This is part of the effort to engage with policymakers and people of the city to strengthen policy action on air pollution and urban mobility, and also share lessons from other cities like Delhi to chart the future course of action.”

Evidence of growing pollution
PM10 monitoring in some locations in the city (such as Chandpole and the RSPCB office) shows that on 63 to 89 per cent of days, the levels exceed the 24-hourly standard. This means high exposure of populations to deadly particles on a daily basis (for more data, please see complete survey report on our website, www.cseindia.org).

Nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels too indicate a continuously increasing trend, though they have so far remained below the standard. Jaipur needs to be careful of NOx not only because it is harmful in itself, but also because it is a major contributor to the formation of another very harmful pollutant in the air – ozone.

The tightening of air quality standards in 2009 by the Union ministry of environment and forests has changed the air quality status of locations in Jaipur. In the case of particulate pollution, all the locations in the city have become ‘critically polluted’.

Before 2009, nitrogen dioxide-affected locations were termed ‘moderately polluted’ (when the annual average NO2 levels fall between 30 to 60 microgramme per cubic metre, which is 50 per cent less than the standard). But with the new stringent standard of 40 microgramme per cubic metre, some locations (such as Chandpole) have moved from the moderate to the high pollution zone.

Health impacts
Evidence now connects increasing ill-health to this pollution. The Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board cites a research study conducted in Jaipur which surveyed 691 residents from five localities to indicate the incidences of coughing, breathing problems and asthma etc. The study found that 563 out of 604 residents of high air pollution localities suffer from respiratory and cough-related ailments.

Another study conducted by scientists from the SMS Medical College and Hospital in Jaipur has found that respiratory morbidity with respect to lung function tests is observed more in groups working in heavy traffic, such as traffic police personnel. The Department of Medicine at the same college has, in yet another study, found that exposure to air pollution affects pulmonary functions adversely.

Wins and losses
To Jaipur’s credit, it has taken some action on controlling its air pollution levels; CSE says this has shown results. In 2010, Jaipur introduced Bharat Stage III norms for vehicles and an LPG programme for autos and tempos; it imposed a green tax on vehicles, exempted battery-driven motor vehicles from VAT, rationalized new buses and routes and put in place a BRTS on some routes.

‘No vehicle days’ were introduced in the walled city area. The city also linked vehicle purchase with availability of parking space. This combination of steps has helped Jaipur to stabilize its air pollution problem to some extent.
But the city is in imminent danger of losing the gains of its first generation action as particulate pollution levels are once again rising; newer pollutants like nitrogen dioxides are also peaking steadily.

Jaipur now faces the second generation challenge. Like other cities, it will have to leap ahead to keep abreast of the problem -- if it does not want to wheeze, sneeze and suffocate.
Jaipur must build on its strength
Despite growing dependence on cars, the walking and cycling share – 27 per cent and 13 per cent respectively (together 40 per cent) – is the highest compared to all other modes in the city. This is the low polluting and low carbon mobility that Jaipur needs to encourage.

Jaipur has this advantage because it has closely built and high density environment. This reduces travel distances -- most trips have an average distance of less than 4 km. It also enables very high level of walking, cycling and public transport usage.

People of Jaipur want change

CSE has carried out a rapid stakeholders’ perception survey to understand how people feel about the transportation challenges in Jaipur. A preliminary analysis of the survey’s responses indicates:

  • The majority – about 88 per cent -- have said air pollution is worsening. About 94 per cent have said incidences of respiratory diseases are on the rise.

  • More than 70 per cent have identified road congestion as a big problem during morning and evening peak hours.

  • Majority (52 per cent) have said that cycles and cycle rickshaws are important and should be given priority in terms of space

  • Nearly 38 per cent have rated the city’s public transport services as good, while 30 per cent have rated it as average. There is nearly unanimous support for improved public transport. Nearly 86 per cent have supported dedicated lanes for buses. Majority are not satisfied with services of mini-buses.

  • About 42 per cent of the respondents have said auto/tempo services are important but have rated their current service level as average.

  • Nearly 70 per cent of the respondents have supported `no vehicle zone` in the old city area. They have also said that non-motorised vehicles can be allowed.

  • Nearly 94 per cent think parking of vehicles is causing encroachment of footpaths and leading to congestion 

  • Nearly 86 per cent respondents think that that government should make efforts to reduce the dependence on personal vehicles.

  • Majority find the walking infrastructure well maintained, clean and usable only in some areas of the city; as a result, they do not enjoy walking.

How walkable is Jaipur?
CSE has also carried out a rapid walkability audit of key areas in Jaipur. These include Johari Bazaar and Bapu Bazar in the walled city area, the stretch outside JDA office, BRTS on Sikar road, Sodala and the Mansarovar area. These locations were selected to represent residential and commercial land-use classes and also low income neighbourhoods. Their walking and cycling infrastructures have been benchmarked because they help improve public transport usage and last mile connectivity. The audit shows:

  • Though all locations have some deficiency, Johri Bazar and Bapu Bazar in the old city are the best. The sidewalks have been integrated with the building design – these act as a verandah for shopkeepers and provide enough space and shade to walkers.

  • The road outside the JDA office is ranked second. This is newly constructed and well surfaced, with 2-2.5m wide footpaths along with 1-m multi-use zone. But this place lacks lighting directed on the footpath. Crossing facilities are not adequate.

  • The BRT stretch on Sikar road has scored comparatively low. The footpaths are just 1-m wide and are mostly encroached. They are also uneven, hence pedestrians prefer walking on the roads.

  • A residential locality, Mansarovar has no footpaths in most areas. The existing footpaths are either badly maintained or uneven.

Says Roychowdhury: “Neglect of sidewalks can hamper the plans to improve public transport ridership.”

The way forward
Jaipur has to formulate a clean air action plan that can cope up with its unique air pollution and mobility challenges. Here is what the city could plan for:

  • Stringent emissions and fuel quality standards for vehicles: City needs these norms to ensure that pollutants are cut at source. BS IV norms should be immediately introduced, and a timeline set for BS V norms.

  • Public transport goals: Jaipur’s comprehensive mobility plan has set a goal of increasing the modal share of public transport to 50 per cent and that of walking and cycling to 35 per cent. This needs a time-bound action plan and more aggressive measures. Other cities like Delhi are setting an 80 per cent target for public transport by 2020.

  • Pedestrian infrastructure: Pedestrian guidelines need to be enforced for approval of road projects and enhancement of the existing ones. Without proper walking facilities, public transport usage will also remain sub-optimal.

  • Enforce parking controls, increase parking charges to reduce parking pressure: Experience from around the world shows that parking controls, parking pricing along with taxes are used to reduce the usage of cars. Cars are the becoming the biggest encroachers in Jaipur.

  • Multi-modal integration: Jaipur has invested a lot on Metro rail, BRT and conventional bus systems. These should be integrated and linked with well-managed autos, walking and cycling to improve last mile connectivity.

For more details, please get in touch with Vrinda Nagar, CSE Media Resource Centre, at 9654106253/ vrinda.nagar@cseindia.org