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. 

April - May  2011

 Air pollution in Indian cities

Diet, lifestyle adding to traffic trigger: Increasing air pollution is the leading cause of asthma, but diet and lifestyle too are beginning to ruin your lungs. Doctors are noticing that processed foods which contain a lot of chemicals are a greater source of allergens. According to eminent paediatric pulmonologist Dr H Paramesh, imitation of Western lifestyle among children is depriving them of protective organisms. Curds, buttermilk and pickles, which were once part of regular diet, have disappeared from children's diet depriving them of some protective germs.
Source: The Times of India, Bangalore, May 3, 2011

30 online air quality stations in state soon: The Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) will soon set up 30 online ambient air quality stations in the state, including Gurgaon. Environment minister Ajay Singh Yadav said that one such station has already been set up in Faridabad and the ambient air quality data from the station is sent to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and to the state headquarters of the HSPCB. The minister said that the board has already procured equipment to set up such stations in Panchkula, Gurgaon and Rohtak.
Source: The Times of India, Gurgaon, May 5, 2011.

Ozone levels rose to 110 ppb in April: The city's pollution continues to rise with ozone levels increasing considerably this year. According to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, ozone levels recorded in April were 110 parts per billion (1 ppb = one ozone molecule per billion of air molecules) in clear weather conditions, and on two occasions it was as high as 130 ppb. The limit set by the ministry of environment and forests is 50 ppb (on an average of eight hours).
Source: The Times of India, Pune, May 12, 2011.

 Health impacts
City air unhealthy for breathing: Study: A visit to Victoria Hospital might give you respiratory problem, continuous visits to City Railway Station could trigger infections even leading to cancer and asthmatic patients should stay away from Yeshwantpur. A report compiled by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, titled 'Status of Ambient Air Quality in Bengalooru', shows the situation to be so dismal that it makes one wonder if it was at all safe to breathe in the city.
Source: The New Indian Express, Bangalore, April 23, 2011.
 Fuel and vehicle technology
Oil PSUs to lose over Rs 180,000 cr on fuel sales: State-owned oil firms companies lose a whopping over Rs 1,80,000 crore on fuel sales this fiscal if domestic retail prices are not hiked in step with the cost of raw material. Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum will "at current international crude oil prices lose Rs 180,208 crore in revenues on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene below their imported cost in FY12", an industry official said here.
Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, April 20, 2011.
BK Chaturvedi proposes dual pricing for diesel: Planning commission member (energy ) BK Chaturvedi on Thursday proposed dual pricing of diesel. He said this would facilitate motorists pay market rates. Moreover, he also said that farms be supplied subsidized fuel. The cabinet had in-principle agreed to de-regulate the fuel last June but as international crude oil prices climbed above $120 a barrel from about $80 in the middle of last year, the government developed cold feet that froze diesel prices.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, April 29, 2011.
New norms for fuel efficiency of vehicles by May end: The government will come out with new norms to determine the fuel efficiency of vehicles by the end of this month, seeking to encourage the use of eco-friendly vehicles to combat pollution. The new fuel efficiency standards will be mandatory for all companies from 2015. The fuel efficiency rate for a company will be calculated by dividing the sum total of fuel efficiency rates of all its models with the total number of vehicles sold.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, May 3, 2011.
Ambassador to undergo a makeover: The Ambassador simply refuses to die. The iconic car that draws its lineage from Morris Oxford series II (Landmaster) and series III (Ambassador) is set to undergo the most ambitious makeover ever. Though Hindustan Motors will continue to manufacture the current Ambassador for the taxi segment, it expects the new avatar to become the bread-earner for the company in 3-5 years. It will have a retro design and sport cutting-edge engineering to compete on comfort and value for money. 
Source: The Times of India, May 6, 2011.
Punjab records negative growth in diesel sales: The high tax rate on petroleum products in Punjab has led to a negative growth in sale of diesel and fall in growth rate in petrol sales. In the past one year, the sale of diesel in the state has shown a decline of 0.3 per cent, while the growth in petrol sales has come down from 10.98 per cent to 5.7 per cent. With Punjab imposing the highest tax rate on these two fuels in North India, the state is witnessing a poor growth in their sales.
Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh, May 8, 2011.
Panel moots higher tax on diesel cars: Diesel cars and SUV owners should pay higher tax when purchasing these vehicles, the government-appointed committee recommended on Monday. While diesel is cheaper in Indian market, diesel cars will cost more as committee suggest an up-front tax on vehicles to compensate for differential fuel pricing. The panel headed by Kirit Parikh on low carbon strategies for inclusive growth, which submitted its interim report, also recommended mandatory vehicle rating system and minimum efficiency standards for all vehicles.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, May 10, 2011.
 Alternative Fuels
Volvo expects to roll out CNG buses by third quarter: Swedish bus maker Volvo on Wednesday said it expected to introduce CNG variant of its 8400 city buses in the country by the third quarter of the year. Mumbai and Delhi could possibly be the cities where the CNG variant would be rolled out first, a top official of Volvo Bus Corporation (VBC) president Hakan Karlsson said. He, however, refused to divulge any details of order book for the same. The buses, which were undergoing field trials in Delhi, are expected to cost 15 to 20 per cent more than the current diesel version, he said.
Source: The Economic Times, Bangalore, January 12, 2011.
Alternatives drive rising portion of car sales: With oil prices on a rise, Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor and General Motors are increasingly looking at alternative fuel variants of vehicles to drive sales. All three companies have three to five models across the compact car and sedan segments propelled by CNG and LPG fuels. They see, on an average, 10 per cent of sales from the variants. The companies are betting on an increasing procurement of such vehicles with the CNG and LPG dispensing network spreading beyond markets in Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat.
Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, April 23, 2011.
Maruti mulls CNG variants across all models: After rolling out five compressed natural gas (CNG) models last year, India’s largest passenger car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), is mulling a CNG platform for all its makes. Speaking at the sidelines of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers’ conference here, Alok Jaitley, general manager, homologation-environment planning, MSIL, said: “We are working on CNG models. We have already launched five vehicles on this platform and eventually plan to offer all our models on a CNG platform.”
Source: Business Standard, Ahmedabad, April 30, 2011.
 In-use vehicles
ARAI to develop 10 vehicle certification centres in country: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has appointed Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) for developing ten centres, including one in the state, for inspection and maintenance (I&M) certification of vehicles in the country. These centres, expected to come up by 2012 end, will be responsible for the annual technical inspection and maintenance of vehicles and certification from these centres would eventually be made mandatory to run a vehicle on road.
Source: The Indian Express, Pune, April 29, 2011.
 Transportation and traffic
Delhi may soon levy congestion fee on vehicles: Delhi may soon become the first city in the country to levy congestion charges on vehicles following the recommendation of a special team constituted by the Delhi High Court to address the capital's growing traffic woes. Delhi has almost 70 lakh vehicles, which is more than what the other three metros together have. Plus, there are 11 lakh vehicles entering the capital everyday from adjoining towns, slowing average speed on its roads to a crawling 12 kmph.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, April 8, 2011.
MTC steps on green bus gear, Chennai cheers: The city got a pleasant surprise on Sunday with the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) introducing environment-friendly BS-4 buses in its initiative to reduce air pollution. Twenty such buses have already hit the city roads and 130 more will soon be inducted in the fleet. According to an MTC official, the Transport department has decided to procure only buses that meet BS-4 norms henceforth as far as Chennai is concerned.
Source: Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, April 18, 2011.
HP to regulate traffic at Rohtang: Grappling with the growing traffic pressure on poor Manali-Leh highway, the Himachal Pradesh government besides regulating traffic plans more action to protect the fragile ecology of Rohtang Pass in near future. As directed by the HP High Court, chief secretary Rajwant Sandhu has constituted a committee to prepare a proposal to reduce the traffic to Rohtang. In the corresponding series, the chief secretary on Tuesday had a discussion with principal secretary tourism and civil aviation Manisha Nanda, principal secretary transport TG Negi, Kullu DC BM Nanta and other officials to come up with a plan to solve this serious problem at Manali.
Source: The Times of India, Manali, April 21, 2011.
Lucknow teachers go green with 'No vehicle day': In an eco-friendly initiative, the Lucknow University Teachers' Association (LUTA) has decided to observe " No vehicle day" every month to counter vehicular pollution in the campus. On the day the teachers will opt for public transport instead of their private vehicles to come to the university, an association official said Friday. "This is to make the university campus free from vehicular pollution at least one day every month. We believe teachers, who are role models for many, must take such an initiative," LUTA general secretary R.B. Singh told IANS.
Source: The Times of India, Lucknow, April 22, 2011.
Diesel-run city bus service won't solve the purpose: In a survey, Punjab Pollution Control Board has found that 70% of pollution in the city is because of vehicles and to curb it, launch of city bus service was announced, but these would hardly make any difference as these would be run on diesel. However, in the press conference organized on Saturday after inauguration of the Buddha Nullah project MP Manish Tewari claimed that state government has got the funds of Rs 65 crore for the bus service and these buses should be based on CNG.
Source: The Times of India, Ludhiana, April 24, 2011.
Entry of private vehicles banned in Sariska: The state forest department is taking steps to overcome the many loopholes in laws at the the Sariska national park. As a first step, officials have restricted the entry of private vehicles in the park. Visitors will now have to hire Gypsies from the department to go inside the park on all days except Tuesday and Saturdays, when hordes of pilgrims come to the park making their way to the Pandupole temple. "We have been contemplating the move for a long time. But now we have enforced it. Visitors to the park will no longer be able to take their own vehicles inside the park. They would have to park them outside and instead hire Gypsies to go inside. There are about 25 Gypsies for the purpose," officials said.
Source: The Times of India, Jaipur, April 25, 2011.
Cycle, new best friend in Bangalore University: For the first of its time in the history of Indian universities, Bangalore University (BU) will launch the Public Bicycle Sharing Project, titled Namma Cycle, in collaboration with the NGO Ride-A-Cycle Foundation (RACF) soon. Even though bike sharing systems are slowly emerging as an alternative and convenient mobility solution for making short trips in the urban context, the system that will be used in Bangalore University will be well organised, providing multiple pick-up and drop options to users.
Source: The New Indian Express, Bangalore, April 28, 2011 
No public transport system in Noida: For a city touted as a world-class investment destination currently undergoing massive infrastructure development, Noida surprisingly performs dismally when it comes to providing an effective public transport system. Thirty-six years after the city was developed, an intra-city public transport system remains non-existent. While a majority of residents use their private vehicles for commuting - figures provided by the regional transport office state around 1,200 cars and 1,500 two wheelers get registered each month in Noida alone - the rest of the population depends on diesel and CNG auto rickshaws and some 4,000 odd cycle rickshaws to commute within the city.
Source: The Times of India, Noida, April 30, 2011.
BRT corridors necessary: UT: To increase the frequency of Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) buses in the city, UT administration has decided to have dedicated bus lanes in the grid system. A feasibility study will soon be conducted by the engineering department so that the possibility of dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors could also be considered to popularise public transport. A senior UT official said that the dedicated lane system had already been introduced in Delhi and given the growing fleet of air-conditioned and ordinary low-floor buses in Chandigarh; this was the only way forward.
Source: The Times of India, Chandigarh, May 1, 2011.
Plan to roll out GPS-enabled, low-floor buses in Noida: A fleet of new swanky and Global Positioning System enabled low floor buses, timed stops, and schedules promptly displayed at all bus shelters—if the Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation is to be believed, the intra-city transport system in Noida is all set to receive a major revamp. The Noida Authority has now devised a special purpose vehicle (SPV) comprising itself, the Greater Noida Authority and UPSRTC to change the dismal public transport system within Noida and Greater Noida. According to UPSRTC Assistant Regional Manager Sandeep Raizada, the SPV will have officials from Noida, Greater Noida and UPSRTC to work on the upgrade and will be headed by the Noida Authority chairperson Mohinder Singh.
Source: The Times of India, Noida, May 1, 2011.
Bangalore babus bus it out to their workplaces: The fourth of every month has been observed as Bus Day for over a year now, and on this month’s Bus Day, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) saw many senior bureaucrats ride public buses to work. Among the bureaucrats who bussed it on Wednesday were GK Boregowda, secretary, department of parliamentary affairs, GS Narayana Swamy, secretary, revenue department, KGV Murthy, secretary, department of law, KS Prabhakar, secretary,revenue and Muni Veeregowda, deputy commissioner, Road Transport Office, Bangalore.
Source: Daily News and Analysis, Bangalore, May 5, 2011.
Tewari writes to Kamal Nath for City Bus Service: Ludhiana MP and the national spokesperson of the Indian National Congress Manish Tewari has urged the Union Urban Development Minister Mr Kamal Nath to ask the state government to expedite the introduction of the City Bus Service in Ludhiana, which has been delayed for several years now and also to ensure that the buses are run on environment friendly CNG fuel. In a letter to Mr Nath, Tewari said, the Union Urban Development Ministry under the Jawahar National Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM) had provided about Rs 65.20 crore to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation for running the City Bus Service here. Although the money was received about a year ago but the corporation has not started the service as yet.
Source: Punjab Newsline. Ludhiana, May 2, 2011.
Bus cluster service launched: Delhi government's ambitious and much publicized cluster bus service, modelled on the public transport system of Paris, was launched on Thursday by chief minister Sheila Dikshit. The service has begun with an initial fleet-strength of 231 low-floor buses. The CM, while congratulating the people of Delhi, expressed hope that the service would improve public transport in the capital. As many as 50 buses were pressed into service on the first day of operation, of which 17 were assigned one particular route - between Ambedkar Nagar and Old Delhi Railway Station. "Rest of the buses will be deployed on other routes in a few days," said transport minister Arvinder Singh.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, May 5, 2011.
Pedestrians must be the centre of planning: Pedestrians need their right to walk freely on footpaths meant only for them. But where are the footpaths? They are shrinking by the day, thanks to encroachments by hawkers, two-wheeler parking and the mess following monsoon. Cluttered pavements and roads that do not have footpaths are increasingly turning into a danger zone. Statistics show that at least 50% of those killed in road accidents in Bangalore are pedestrians and that shrinking pavements are the main culprit.
Source: The Times of India, Bangalore, May 10, 2011.
Rs 50 per hour fine for wrong parking: The traffic department will now impose a fine of Rs 50 per hour on vehicles parked wrongly on the roads, leading to obstruction in traffic. In one such action undertaken recently under the Motor Vehicle Act, the court had ordered a person in Pune Cantonment to pay a fine of Rs 3,000. The person had parked his Fiat car on the Poona college road. According to the police, the car was parked in such a way that it obstructed the movement of other vehicles. Traffic officials said that there are increasing instances of vehicles being parked on the roads in this way.
Source: The Times of India, Pune, May 12, 2011.
Leave your car at home, take bus: The city roads will be not be congested if people make optimum use of the public transport service. A city like Kochi, which has not witnessed any major road development project, is not in a position to accommodate more vehicles. With more people thronging the city and many more resorting to private vehicles the main roads are crowded with vehicles. Travelling on the city roads has become a nightmare. Though the government is doing its bit to solve the problem by setting up projects such as Vytilla Mobility Hub and metro rail project, the public also should be more responsible in helping reduce traffic congestion in the city.
Source: The New Indian Express, Kochi, May 12, 2011.
 In Court

HC notice to state, Centre over CNG policy: The Gujarat high court on Monday sought explanation from the state government, Centre and gas companies in regard with a PIL seeking additional quota of natural gas from the Centre for Gujarat for domestic and vehicular usage at the administrative price mechanism (APM) rate. The petitioner - Dhrangadhra Prakrutik Mandal has alleged discrimination against Gujarat in allocation of natural gas at APM in comparison with metropolis like Delhi and Mumbai. The PIL has sought HC direction to the Centre to prioritize and diversify the unutilised natural gas from non-priority sector to the City Gas Distribution (CGD) for their domestic and vehicular usage, as directed by the Supreme Court in one of the cases to reduce the pollution level and cost of living.
Source: The Times of India, Ahmedabad, may 3, 2011.

 South Asian countries
Colombo should learn from mistakes of Delhi, avoid pro-car policies: A top regional scientist says Sri Lanka should avoid excessive importation of cars as Colombo was facing detrimental health and environmental conditions. New Delhi based Centre for Science and Environment Research and Advocacy Director Anumita Roychowdhury says South Asian cities have the chance to grow differently and avert the increasing air pollution crisis that produce dangerous chemicals by encouraging bus use –public transport- non motorized transport and walking.
Source: The Island, Colombo, April 27, 2011
Bus owners to oppose emission tests as govt. fails to provide cleaner fuel: The Private Bus Owners Association of Sri Lanka yesterday vowed that that they would campaign against the Vehicle Emission Testing Programme (VET)unless the Petroleum Ministry took steps to produce diesel with low Sulphur levels. The VET programme was jointly implemented by the Environment and Natural Resources and Transport Ministry in 2007 to reduce dangerous gases that cause air pollution.
Source: The Island, Colombo, May 9, 2011.
CNG price hike declaration today: Compressed natural gas (CNG) is going to be costlier, as the energy regulator has decided to announce an increased price of the fuel today (Thursday), to keep it at per with the petroleum prices. “We will announce the CNG price hike Thursday,” Chairman of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Syed Yusuf Hossain told the FE Wednesday. The chairman did not disclose the extent of the hike, but said there would be a substantial hike in CNG price.
Source: The Financial Express, Dhaka, May 12, 2011.