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.

January 2010

Air pollution in Indian cities

Air we breathe in is more polluted now: Forsake your private vehicles and go for `pool' transport. The drastic increase in vehicular pollution in residential areas of Lucknow is due to substantial increase in vehicles plying on city roads. Going for pool transport could be the contribution of Lucknowites towards saving the environmental quality. The `assessment of environmental status of Lucknow' report released by Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) does not portend well for health of Lucknowites. "Pollutant concentrations in terms of suspended/respirable particulate matter (SPM and RSPM) in urban atmosphere of Lucknow city has been found to be two to five times higher than national standards", said the study report. The assessment of ambient air quality of city was carried out at 10 locations --- Aliganj, Vikasnagar, Indiranagar, Gomtinagar, Hussainganj, Charbagh, Alambagh, Aminabad, Chowk and Amausi -- during September-October 2009 with respect to SPM, RSPM, SO2 and NO and noise level.

Source: The Times of India, Lucknow, November 6, 2009.

Smog envelops capital: Thick smog shrouded the capital today, amplifying concerns that a steady growth in the number of vehicles might be neutralising Delhi’s environmental gains from the shift to compressed natural gas as fuel for public transport. An abrupt drop in wind speed last night prevented normal dispersal of fine dust particles and vehicle emissions, generating a haze that obscured visibility across the city through Saturday, meteorologists said. PTI reports suggested poor visibility claimed 10 lives today. Seven students were injured when a truck hit a school bus this morning. Environment scientists said the smog today was a signal that the air quality was deteriorating to levels before 2001-03, when the Delhi government launched a clean-up drive. It replaced a fleet of about 6,000 diesel-powered buses with CNG vehicles, ordered three-wheelers and taxis to shift to CNG and banned commercial vehicles older than 15 years.

Source: The Telegraph, Kolkata, November 8, 2009.

Overnight, air is more poisonous: India has revised standards for air quality for the first time in 15 years in a move that environmental experts say will overnight tar more cities and localities across the country as polluted beyond limits. The new standards notified by the environment ministry have lowered maximum limits for pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that carry the risk of respiratory illness and introduced new limits for pollutants left out earlier. The limits will be the same across residential, industrial, and rural areas under the new standards, which will end the practice of providing less stringent limits for industrial zones. The new limits, developed by the Central Pollution Control Board in consultation with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, will replace existing standards notified in 1994. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh said the new limits will push air quality standards in India to European levels. “But the big question is enforcement of standards.

Source: The Telegraph, Kolkata, November 19, 2009.

Deadly pygmy called PM 2.5: The city’s smallest but deadliest enemy was today given a name — PM 2.5.This fine pollutant spewed mainly by automobile exhaust, measuring less than 2.5 micron in diameter and invading the innermost parts of the lungs, made its debut in the national ambient air quality standards announced in the capital. PM (particulate matter) 2.5 from polluting buses, taxis and autos — that enjoy a free run on the city streets thanks to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s inaction and Mamata Banerjee’s indifference — enter the bronchi and alveoli, causing irreparable damage to lungs and serious health hazards. “Particulate less than 2.5 micron are mainly responsible for the respiratory diseases rampant in Calcutta as they enter the respiratory tract. Also, the new standard has been announced on World COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) Day, and this disease should increasingly be linked to fine particulate in the air we breathe,” said A.G. Ghosal, the director of the National Allergy Asthma & Bronchitis Institute off Park Circus.

Source: The Telegraph, Kolkata, November 19, 2009.

Revised air quality norms notified: The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has notified the Revised National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), 2009, which provide a legal framework for control of air pollution and protection of public health. The revised norms have come 15 years after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had notified the previously existing NAAQS in 1994. The new norms are in league with those of the European Union and World Health Organisation and include five new pollutants: ozone, arsenic, nickel, benzene and benzo(a)pyrene. The existing seven parameters of suspended particulate matter(SPM), respirable particulate matter (RPM), sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, ammonia and lead also remain in the new norms. Though mercury has not been notified as part of these revised standards, the MoEF plans to monitor it. Importantly, the ministry has put in place uniform standards for residential and industrial areas.

Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, November 19, 2009.

Pollution norms up in smoke: The new ambient air quality checks that have been prescribed for residential areas have become a cause of worry for the Delhi government. Since parameters like ozone, ammonia and arsenic have never been measured for the city, officials say it will take at least one year to know how Delhi fares on these fronts. And only after that measures to curb their figures can be thought of and put into action. After the new norms were notified, certain pollutants like NO2 which, as per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) measurements, were within earlier standards of 60 micrograms/cu m at 50 in 2008 are now beyond permissible limits with the new standard at 40. Particulate matter has always been a problem and is much beyond permissible limits. Benzene, an addition to the list, which was being monitored earlier but not continuously, is also being seen as a problem.

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, November 22, 2009.

Chandni Chowk, Sarojini Ngr critically polluted’: Delhi exceeds the new pollution norms consistently and if the new standards are to be applied, Chandni Chowk and Sarojini Nagar now fall in the ‘critically polluted’ zone, with one-and-a-half times the prescribed standards, says pollution data for November and the past year accessed by Newsline. The prescribed standards have been tightened as pollution levels have shown an upward trend nationwide. As per the new norms, the annual average for nitrogen dioxide is supposed to be 80 milligrams per metre cube (mg/m3) and the Particulate Matter standard (PM) is 60 mg/m3 annually. But as per air-monitoring data by the Central Pollution Control Board, annual average of the PM level in Sarojini Nagar is 180 mg/m3. At Town Hall, the figure was 278 mg/m3. Nitrogen oxide levels at the South Delhi colony was measured at 69 mg/m3, while at Town Hall it was 77 mg/m3, says the data. According to the pollution control board’s data, carbon monoxide, a pollutant that affects the oxygen carrying capacity of blood, is also at an alarming high in the city.

Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi, November 28, 2009.

City has high levels of smog-forming ozone: Dangerous levels of ground-level ozone that causes respiratory ailments could be enveloping Chennai, but the city, like other Indian metros, is blissfully unaware of it in the absence of a monitoring system. A study taken up by Sri Ramachandra Medical College (SRMC) for the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) under the Indo-US occupational and environmental health programme substantiates this concern. "Early findings of the study show that the presence of ozone could be as severe if not more severe compared to the west," said Kalpana Balakrishnan, head of environment, health and engineering department, SRMC. The two-year study, being done in T Nagar, Vallalar Nagar and Porur, is expected to complete in another year. Ground-level ozone is the prime component of smog that can cause asthma and several other pulmonary disorders.

Source: The Times of India, Chennai, January 9, 2010.


Health impacts


Polluters off roads, city breathes easy: Fruit-seller Raju Haldar doesn't have to rub his eyes or hurry to a tap to wash his face every hour, leaving his rickety basket in the care of a neighbouring vendor at Sealdah. Neither does he cough violently before going to bed at night. The air is cleaner and Raju vouches for it. So do most Kolkatans for whom a walk down the thoroughfare is no longer a nightmarish journey through noxious fumes, adulterated fuel-induced smoke and choking dust. Those suffering from asthma, breathlessness, skin allergies and other pollution-related disorders have finally got some respite. Ever since polluting vehicles were withdrawn four months ago, the city has been breathing easy. Figures emerging from a Times of India-SAFE survey confirm that. The survey was conducted at Shyambazar, Mullickbazar, Sealdah and Rashbehari crossings. A comparison with last year's pollution figures reveal that despite the onset of winter that pushes up the SPM and RPM levels in the air there has been a sharp drop in hydrocarbon levels at the city's most congested intersections.

Source: The Times of India, Kolkata, November 30, 2009.

Children facing brunt of air pollution: Most of them have not heard of global warming or Green House Gas emissions, but children across the State are falling victim to vehicular pollution at a worrying rate. Exhaust from vehicles is identified as the prime source of air pollution in most areas of the State as industrial activities are limited or concentrated in some pockets. According to doctors, various respiratory problems are up in children, and they are also complaining of ailments like irritation of the eye, nausea, and skin infection. According to a senior doctor at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, the effects of pollution have become pronounced in children during the last few years. More young boys and girls are coming in with illness that can be traced to pollution. The most vulnerable are very young school going children, who are unable to take basic precautionary steps. “The respiratory tracts of children are very sensitive, and slightest amounts of pollution can cause irritation. In larger amounts, pollutants can cause serious harm to various organs,” he said.

Source: The Assam Tribune, Guwahati, December 7, 2009.



Fuel and vehicle technology

Eco-friendly vehicles rally held in Delhi: A first-ever rally of eco-friendly vehicles with the theme 'Save the Earth' was hosted in the national capital on Sunday. Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit flagged off the rally, held on the eve of the fourth EFV (Environment Friendly Vehicle) Conference, a biannual international conference, under the World Forum for Harmonisation of vehicles. Another objective of this rally was to spread awareness about various alternatives for conventional fuels like petrol and diesel. Organisers contended that eco-friendly vehicles would come as a boon to a city like New Delhi which is known for having the largest number of vehicles in India and is faced with a steadily growing traffic problem. "This rally that is taking place here today, I hope that through this people will realise that vehicles with cleaner fuel are also being made in India now. It is up to all Indians to accept them. There will be difficulties naturally, but they will also be tackled with, but it is extremely important to bring cleaner fuels and alternative fuels to use, else it will severely effect the environment," said Shiela Dikshit, chief of Delhi. 

 The Times of India, New Delhi, November 22, 2009.

Switch to dual fuel next yr: The switch to dual fuel for vehicles, consisting of hydrogen and CNG, will happen by next year. “In the next 12–15 months, we expect the commercial usage of dual fuel across vehicles,” said Pawan Goenka, president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) and president of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M). Goenka was speaking on the sidelines of today’s ‘4th Environment Friendly Vehicles Conference’. The fuel mixture would consist of 10–15 per cent of hydrogen and the balance contributed by CNG. The move, spearheaded both by SIAM and the government, is aimed at reducing the emission of noxious oxides by CNG fuelled vehicles, and for better fuel combustion. Currently, around 2 million vehicles powered by CNG fuel operate in the country out of which Delhi has the highest population of CNG vehicles. Automobile manufacturers like Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leylank, Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki, and Bajaj Auto are part of the pilot studies for dual fuel usage that is currently underway.

Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, November 24, 2009.

Green cars hit sops hurdle: Development of Environment-Friendly Vehicles (EFV) by Indian manufacturers is a 'chicken and egg' story. While vehicle makers are looking for fiscal incentives from the government to support development of alternate fuel technologies such as hybrids and electric vehicles, the latter is awaiting development of "substantial" numbers of such vehicles before coming forward with any incentives. S N Dash, secretary in the Union Ministry of Heavy Industry, told DNA Money that any decision on sops for EFV development would be taken after a meeting of the high powered 'Development Council' next month. At present, there is hardly any incentivisation for EFV development other than some duty concessions for electric vehicles. Pending EFV incentivisation proposals include 50% subsidisation for indigenous development of hybrids. Also, programmes such as the National Hybrid Propulsion Programme (NHPP) and another one to develop an optimal mixture of CNG and hydrogen are hanging fire, largely because of lack of government funding.

Source: Daily News and Analysis, Mumbai, November 24, 2009.

Lighter levies to ensure hybrid cars soon to be cheaper: Hybrid and eco-friendly cars such as Honda Civic, the soon to be launched Toyota Prius, Nissan Altima and GM Taheo could become cheaper as the government looks at trimming duties on such vehicles. Union minister for heavy industries and public enterprises Vilasrao Deshmukh said on Monday that his department plans to cut import duties on hybrid vehicles and will approach the finance ministry for the same. “There is scope for changes in the duty structure and my department will recommend to the finance ministry to alter the high import duties levied on import of such vehicles.” Currently, import of all vehicles, including hybrid, attract over 100% in duties and taxes, making it highly expensive for Indian customers.

Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, November 24, 2009.

Tata Motors working on hybrid buses: The country’s largest manufacturer of buses, Tata Motors, will roll out hybrid buses for the domestic market in the next few years, said Ravi Pisharody, its president (commercial vehicles). On the sidelines of today’s Environmentally Friendly Vehicles Conference held here, another company executive said the hybrid buses (which can switch between diesel and the battery to run its engine) would incorporate the latest technology. “As the technology for alternative fuel vehicles is constantly evolving, we are constantly evaluating the ideal one suited for our buses meant for the domestic market. It will take some time for the launch of these buses.” Hybrid buses, say industry executives, are ideal for city transportation, characterised by numerous stops, slow-moving traffic and engines idling at traffic signals. “A lot of fuel is burnt. In the case of a hybrid bus this does not happen, since during idling, the engine actually charges the battery packs,” says a researcher from Tata Motors’ Engineering Research Centre who was present at the conference.

Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, November 27, 2009.

Govt set to rate cars for fuel efficiency: It’s been more than two years in the pipeline but the ministry of power is now ready to rate cars for their fuel efficiency. So in the new year, when you go hunting for a new set of wheels, a star label on the car’s windshield could help you decide if you are getting your money’s worth. To begin with, the labelling would be voluntary for manufacturers. But it would still be easy for consumers to make out why some manufacturers don’t want their products labelled. In a year’s time, labelling will become mandatory under a strict grading system. The proposed label will not only suggest the new car’s ideal mileage but also tell the buyer how the car performs compared to other models in the same category. The categories would be created on the basis of the vehicle’s weight. The best performer would be given 5 stars and the others would get fewer stars depending on their mileage.

Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, December 28, 2009.

Small cars to create maximum buzz at Auto Expo: A clutch of small cars from global carmakers and a lineup of electric and hybrid vehicles are expected to generate maximum buzz at the Milestones for auto sector. The expo will see a number of small car launches — concepts from Honda, Toyota and Suzuki, Polo from Volkswagen, Micra from Nissan and Figo from Ford vying for a piece of India’s small car market. Green vehicles will join the roster with every participating company from Toyota to Honda and Hyundai to Suzuki looking to display their wares — either existing hybrids and electric models or new concepts. Global carmakers are looking to enter India, the largest market for small cars in the world, in a big way as their traditional markets in the developed world are yet to recover fully from the impact of the economic downturn. About 1.6 million small cars were sold in 2009 with the segment accounting for almost 75% of all cars sold in the country. And some like GM will display partnership products such as the electric Spark it’s developing in collaboration with Reva.

Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, January 3, 2010.

Electric vehicles to rule at Auto Expo: Everyone’s laughed at the sight of a Reva on the road. “Oh that small little car isn’t practical at all, we say. The cost doesn’t make sense Most awaited car launches Electric vehicles to rule Auto Expo either.” As the decade ends and the global warming debate hots up, mindsets are changing. Home to the second largest population in the world, the Indian market is attracting attention from car makers across the globe to showcase their electric vehicle (EV) technologies. This year’s Auto Expo, will feature a number of EVs which are out to prove that running an EV could get practical, very soon. Every major car manufacturer is talking electric. Nissan, Hyundai, Tata and even Mahindra. At the Auto Expo, giving company to General Motors’ EVs will be the Honda EV-N, Renault Twizy ZE and the world famous Toyota Prius Hybrid. too has joined the EV bandwagon and will be showcasing an i10 EV at the Auto Expo. The launch though will be at a later date.

Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, January 3, 2010.

Delhi government plans charging booths for electric cars: If vehicle manufacturers have introduced green cars at the Delhi Auto Expo, the city-state’s administration has decided to do its bit to reduce carbon footprint: provide electric charge stations. The Delhi government is also planning incentives like base price discount, lower VAT, and road tax and registration charge refund to boost the sale of environment-friendly electric cars. “We will be ready to provide electric charge stations in Delhi when such cars will be ready for launch in India. The government wants to bring down the city’s pollution level,” a senior government official said. The government is already providing a 15% subsidy on the base price of the Reva, the first Indian-made electric car, along with 12.5% VAT exemption, and road tax and registration charge refund. Several manufacturers are exhibiting environment-friendly electric and hybrid cars at the Auto Expo, inaugurated on Monday.

Source: Daily News and Analysis, New Delhi, January 4, 2010.

Ashok Leyland unveils India's first electric plug-in CNG hybrid bus: Hinduja group's flagship company Ashok Leyland today unveiled the country's first electric plug-in CNG hybrid bus, HYBUS, at the Auto Expo here. Unveiling the bus, Ashok Leyland Managing Director R Seshasayee said that the government should encourage public transportation and asked for support for production of hybrid buses. "The government must bring down duty on lithium ion batteries," he said. At present, duty on lithium ion batteries, that powers the drive system of a vehicle, is 18 per cent. According to Seshasayee, compared to conventional bus, powered by IC engine, HYBUS offers significant fuel savings of 20-30 per cent. These buses will be used during the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, January 6, 2010.

Refineries obstruct Euro III rollout: Plans of automobile manufacturers to sell Euro-III compliant vehicles from April 1 in the entire country may hit a road block as local refineries are not yet ready to sell the higher quality auto fuel in Kerala, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir and the entire Northeast, officials close to development said. India is set to phase out Euro-III vehicles from 13 major cities and Euro-II vehicles from rest of the country barring four regions from April 1, 2010. These would give way for Euro-IV and Euro III compliant vehicles, respectively. The higher grade fuels have lower emission levels of sulphur and benzene, key pollutant from fuel burned by automobiles. “Refineries in four regions are not ready to serve higher grade of auto fuel from the appointed date (April 1, 2010). Petroleum ministry has called for a meeting of public sector-refiners to review the situation,” an oil ministry official said requesting anonymity. “Huge investments are required for upgrading existing refineries. IOC, BPCL and HPCL have no incentive in upgrading refineries as there is no price difference between low grade and high grade fuels in the retail market, he said.

Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, January 8, 2010.

Toyota Prius leads charge of green brigade: The third day of the Auto Expo saw global companies displaying their greener side, led by global car market leader Toyota, which launched its international bestseller Prius hybrid with a price tag of Rs 26.55 lakh. Loaded with the Toyota Hybrid System II with three driving modes— power, eco and electric—Prius is the second hybrid car to be launched in India after the ill-fated Honda Civic Hybrid that was withdrawn due to lacklustre demand. The rollout of the Prius shows the optimism among carmakers about the Indian market’s appetite for green cars that are much more expensive than those run on petroleum fuels. Japanese companies Honda and Toyota took a long time to introduce their hybrid cars in India because on account of prohibitive duties that makes such cars very expensive. These cars will be imported from Japan.

Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, January 8, 2010.

Solar car designed by students popular at Auto Expo: Once you finish feasting your eyes on the line of technologically-advanced luxury cars by major car manufacturers on display at the 10th Auto Expo, you might want to turn your attention to a non-polluting version, offered by a resourceful group of students. Tucked between a row of stalls is the solar-powered car ‘Advay II’, designed by a team of 16 engineering students from the Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology, Delhi University. Built over a year, this car’s yellow body does not bear resemblance to any current car model in production. “We call this an aerofoil design, which offers minimum resistance to air, making the car aerodynamic and faster. It is a common design followed by many prototype solar cars,” said Nikhil Gupta, a third-year student of Instrumentation and Control and team leader. Last year, Gupta was part of another team of engineering students from his college that designed an earlier variant of this car, ‘Advay I’, which participated in the South-African Solar Challenge-2008, and came third.

Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi, January 8, 2010.

Green is the theme at the New Delhi auto expo: With concern over vehicular emissions rising, auto majors are fast shifting their focus towards greener electric and hybrid vehicles, besides providing customers the option of owning a car run by cheaper and low-emission fuels such as CNG and LPG. Signs of things to come are clearly visible at the 10th Auto Expo where almost every carmaker has showcased the future green offerings. Be it the mass-market players — Maruti, Hyundai, Tata Motors — or the foreign auto major — General Motors, Toyota Honda — all are betting big on green cars, not only for India but also for the overseas market. At the expo, Toyota has launched the latest version of world’s largest selling hybrid car, Prius, in the Indian market, besides introducing Altis CNG and Innova CNG, besides showcasing Camry hybrid.

Source: The Hindu, New Delhi, January 9, 2010.

Oil cos misled govt on Euro-III fuels, secy wants heads to roll: State-run oil marketing companies led the government up the garden path on the issue of green fuels by telling the oil ministry till the very end 2009 that they were ready to meet the April 1, 2010, deadline for introducing Euro-III petrol and diesel throughout the country -- except 13 major cities that graduate to Euro-IV. Feeling let down, petroleum secretary R S Pandey is asking for heads of those responsible for delay in introduction of Euro-III fuels. "Investigate the reasons for delay in completing fuel quality upgradation projects or logistics and fix responsibility/take suitable administrative action wherever necessary,'' he has told company heads in a letter. In that letter, Pandey says the panel of marketing chiefs of these companies, set up to monitor the introduction of Euro-IV and Euro-III fuels, told the ministry as late as July 2009 they were ready. It now comes to light they can only supply cleaner fuels in the 13 cities designated to graduate to Euro-IV on April 1 but will be unable to introduce Euro-III fuels all over the country at one go as was committed to the Supreme Court.

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, January 16, 2010.





Alternative Fuels


CNG must in NCR towns: Min: Anticipating the serious implications of hazardous smoke emanating from consistent increase in the number of motor vehicles, the Haryana government has decided to make the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) necessary in all towns of Haryana falling in the national capital region (NCR). The order was passed in the meeting of officers from the environment department and Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) held on Monday. Haryana environment minister Ajay Singh also asked the officials to deposit the detailed action report on the disposal of bio-medical waste, stone crushers and sewage treatment plants. Citing Delhi's example, he said, "So far as the NCR is concerned, we do not want to face the situation that Delhi saw at one time.. We already have CNG pumps in Faridabad and Gurgaon. Now, we would have pumps in all the towns across NCR. We have already informed the chief minister and departments have been told to come with a time-bound action programme so that this decision is implemented well in time.''  

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, November 17, 2009.

Fiat India to roll out CNG-run car next year: Fiat India plans to launch its first compressed natural gas (CNG)-run car for the domestic market in the April-June quarter of 2010, a top company official said here Tuesday. "We are working on a few CNG models. The first one will be rolled out in the second quarter next year," the company's president and chief executive Rajeev Kapoor said at a press meet. However, Kapoor declined to divulge any details on the models under consideration. "CNG is ultimately going to be a fuel for most commercial applications," he said, explaining the rationale behind the move, adding: "The technology is available with Fiat." Among other plans, he said the company was also working on an India-specific small car. "The car will be launched in 2011." 

Source: The Economic Times, Kolkata, November 17, 2009.

Navi Mumbai to get 8 new CNG, LPG fuel stations: After a year or so, people in and around Navi Mumbai may not have to go to Mumbai or Thane to fill CNG or LPG in their vehicles if the City and Industrial Development Corporation's (Cidco) plan to help set up eight new CNG, LPG and other fuel (petrol and diesel) stations in the city is any indication. In a step to strengthen infrastructure within Navi Mumbai, Cidco on Wednesday threw open eight prime plots in the city's prominent residential nodes namely -Airoli, Ghansoli, Vashi, Sanpada, Belapur, Kharghar and Kalamboli-for auction at a base price ranging between Rs 9,000 a sq-m and Rs 31,320 sq-m. Of these eight plots, two are in Kharghar and one each in the remaining nodes. The area of the plot offered for these fuel stations ranges from 599 to 1,658 sq-m. This is going to be the third major auction by CIDCO after the recession. Cidco spokesman Mohan Ninave and its marketing manager R G More expect a record number of buyers and amazingly high rates as they say these stations were the need of the city and that the realty market was also improving after a long haul of recession.

Source: The Times of India, Mumbai, November 19, 2009. 




MTC plans to try out biofuel: Taking a leaf out of Delhi’s book, the Tamil Nadu Transport Department (TNTD) has decided to go in for an eco-friendly transport fuel system. The only difference: TNTD intends to use biofuel instead of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) used in Delhi. The project to develop an affordable biofuel has been undertaken by the Institute for Road Transport Technology, Erode, which is run by the TNTD along with Anna University. An MTC bus will soon be fitted with a modified engine for the test run with biofuel. The research has been funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Delhi. “Biofuel is based on the derivates of vegetable oil. It not only reduces pollution, but also enhances vehicle performance. Biofuel can drastically reduce emissions of noxious gases, such as nitrous oxide,” said Krishnamurthy, joint director, Institute of Road Transport. Two species of plants, Pongamia and Jatropha, were used to develop the biofuel. If the project is implemented on a large scale, it would require mass cultivation of these crops.

Source: Express Buzz, Chennai, November 18, 2009.

Biofuel role limited in India: Ramesh: Biofuels have a limited role in India due to land limitation and food security issues, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said, a view which differs from the official line pushing for a 20 per cent blend of such fuel in gasoline and diesel by 2017. Pitching for hybrids and CNG-run vehicles, Ramesh said "biofuel does not have a relevance role in Indian context in view of land limitation and food security." He was speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day 4th Environment Friendly Vehicles' conference. In October 2007, under pressure from the world to cut emissions of the greenhouse gasses produced by fossil fuel combustion, the Government had mandated that all diesel should contain 5 per cent biofuel by volume. Biofuels are produced from crops and burn cleaner than fossil fuels. Biodiesels, a subset of biofuels, are produced from vegetable or animal oil and there is a view that biofuel target is a reason for food prices shooting up lately. Ramesh said India could not follow Brazil which is a world leader in the use of ethanol as transportation fuel.

Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi, November 23, 2009. 

Biofuel policy gets govt approval: The national biofuel policy, aimed at facilitating development of indigenous biomass feedstock for production of biofuels, has been cleared by the Cabinet. The draft of the policy was prepared by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), the coordinating ministry for biofuel development, last year. Setting up of a National Biofuel Coordination Committee to provide policy guidance has also been approved. It is to be headed by the prime minister. A Biofuel Steering Committee chaired by the cabinet secretary will also be set up to oversee the implementation of the policy. “The Indian approach to biofuels is based solely on non-food feedstock to be raised on degraded or waste lands that are not suitable for agriculture, thus avoiding a possible conflict of fuel versus food security,” a statement issued by MNRE read. Promotion of biofuels could meet India’s energy needs in an environmentally-sustainable manner, while reducing its import dependence on fossil fuels.

Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, December 25, 2009.

IOC wants 50,000 acres for biofuel cultivation in UP: New government policy on biofuels may consider financial incentives. Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the country’s biggest oil marketing company, is looking to acquire 50,000 hectares of wasteland in Uttar Pradesh for plantation of non-edible oilseeds, such as jatropha and karanjia, that are used for biodiesel production. “We are in talks with the state government to acquire wasteland in the Lalitpur area near Jhansi. Plantation on this land will be done partly by IOC and partly through contract farming,” said B M Bansal, director (business development) at IOC. The company has already acquired 30,000 hectares in Chhattisgarh and another 2,000 hectares in Madhya Pradesh. “We have planted 1,000 hectares so far and aim to plant 10,000 hectares this year. Seeds from the plantations will start coming after three to four years,” he added. IOC has also entered into an MoU with Indian Railways for plantation of jatropha on railway land.

Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, January 5, 2010.



In-Use vehicles



Scanner on vehicles flouting green norms: After being successful in developing the habit of sporting helmets among two-wheeler drivers and removing black films from the car windows, the Ranchi traffic police is all set to embark on a drive against the vehicles polluting the air in the city. A strict vigil would be maintained on the old vehicles and those emitting more carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon gases, sulphur and nitrogen dioxides than the norms set by the Central Pollution Control Board. All motor vehicles plying on Ranchi roads would now have to carry with them pollution under control (PUC) certificates which are to be produced before the concerned traffic policemen on demand. The PUC certificates would be in addition to the vehicle ownership papers, insurance, road tax payment documents and valid driving license that are required to be carried by all categories of vehicle drivers at all times. “Every vehicle, which has completed 12 months on roads after its registration is required to carry pollution under control certificates. As per Central Motor Rules, 1989, every motor vehicle, including those conforming to Euro-I/ Euro-II/ Euro-III standards and vehicles plying on CNG/LPG, is required to carry a valid PUC Certificate,” Ranchi traffic superintendent of police Daddanjee Sharma told The Telegraph. 

The Telegraph, Kolkata, November 4, 2008.

Energy efficiency mission under cloud: The government's decision to let the auto industry slip out of the ambit of the Energy Conservation Act (ECA) has left the entire energy efficiency mission segment of the national action plan on climate change under a cloud.  With the government favouring the view that the surface transport ministry govern the auto fuel efficiency norms under the more specific Motor Vehicles Act instead of the 'generic' ECA, doubts have been raised about sectors, including fertilizers, steel and railways also looking for similar routes. The ECA was meant to be the key legislation to ensure reduction of energy in sectors of industry that are high on power consumption. The Act empowers the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) under the power ministry to designate and select such sectors and then set up norms and standards demanding reduction of energy consumption of any form, such as oil, gas and electricity, along a designated roadmap. With the energy efficiency mission one of the two prominent elements of the PM's national climate action plan, the ECA had gained in importance and the BEE was seen to be in business. But the move to let ECA regulate efficiency norms seems to have come up against and lost to strong lobbies in its first test — the automotive industry. The ministries of surface transport and heavy industries both protested to the PMO claiming they were the nodal ministries for the sector and the Motor Vehicles Act was a 'specific' law which should prevail over ECA.

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, November 9, 2008.

Declaring fuel mileage to be mandatory: Auto companies may no longer be able to market their cars without mentioning the average fuel consumption. To promote fuel-efficient vehicles, a review committee on auto fuel policy has favoured mandatory declaration of average mileage per litre of fuel by automakers for selling their vehicles. The interim report, recently submitted to the petroleum secretary R S Pandey, has favoured recommendations made in the report. The panel, headed by ministry of petroleum & natural gas’ scientific advisory committee chairman and former HPCL CMD M B Lal, has suggested that auto manufacturing companies must declare fuel economy in terms of km per litre. This will help customers take informed decision while buying a new vehicle. “The standards citing fuel economy in terms of km per litre can be better interpreted by the end user as compared to the standards based on net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The standard should be based on fuel economy rather than the parameter of CO2 emission that is technical for consumers to understand,” the committee said in the report. “Recorded fuel efficiency of a car would not be the same in city condition,” Maruti chairman RC Bhargava told the media. 

Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, November 17, 2008. 


In-use vehicles

Of 60L vehicles, just 5% go for pollution check: 
Out of the city's over 60 lakh vehicles, barely 3 lakh a dismal 5 per cent get their Pollution Under Control (PUC) checks done, according to the transport department. And even in cases where tests are carried out, they prove completely ineffective. Records of the transport department reveal that there are 60.84 lakh vehicles registered in Delhi till June this year. But on an average, just about 3 lakh get their PUC tests carried out, of which even fewer are regular. This, despite it being mandatory for every vehicle running on Delhi roads to have a pollution test once every three months from a registered testing centre. Experts say the current emission norms are appropriate only for very old vehicles and not for those running on post Euro-II norms. This becomes a greater cause of worry since even as Delhi is all set to switch to Euro-IV norms by next April no body seems to be thinking about revision of standards.

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, November 22, 2009.

From 2011, all vehicles will have fuel efficiency tags: There's good news for environmentalists. The government has finally decided to address their concern regarding rising pollution levels and is giving the final touches to a notification setting fuel efficiency standards for the automobile sector. The norms will come into force in 2011. At present, vehicle manufacturers voluntarily disclose fuel efficiency at the point of purchase, but the disclosure is optional. Once the notification is in place, revealing efficiency details will become mandatory. According to the ministry for environment and forest, the automobile sector contributes 15%-20% to the nation's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By 2030, the contribution is likely to go up to 25%. "We are completing administrative formalities and discussing whether to issue the notification under the Energy Conservation Act or the Motor Vehicles Act," minister for environment and forest Jairam Ramesh said on the first day of the two-day fourth environment friendly vehicles conference under way in the capital.

Source: Daily News and Analysis, Mumbai, November 24, 2009. 

CVs older than 10 yrs likely to face ban: The ministry of road transport and highways may ban commercial vehicles older than 10 years from plying on roads if a proposal under its consideration is implemented. The move will affect 35% of goods transport vehicles operating in the country. The suggestion is a part of recommendations of a committee formed last year to propose changes in the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. “The committee has submitted its recommendations. The most important suggestion is to stop commercial vehicles more than 10-year old from operating as stage carriage,” a senior official in the ministry told FE. At present, there is no age limit for the commercial vehicles to ply on roads. More than 45 lakh goods transport vehicles are operating in the country. Of these, nearly 16 lakh are older than 10 years. “We are against such move unless the Centre gives some kind of subsidy to finance the new vehicles as the West Bengal government has done,” All-India Motor Transport Congress’ (AIMTC) managing committee member O P Agarwal said.

Source: The Financial Express, New Delhi, January 19, 2010. 

Transportation and traffic

New roadmap to unclog NCR: A quantum jump in the volume of traffic has made major snarls on the capital's periphery a routine affair for NCR commuters. An integrated transport report prepared for the NCR Planning Board has laid the roadmap for bypassing these bottlenecks. Its prescription: 11 new expressways and two orbital railway corridors connecting major cities around Delhi. The plan projects that five urban clusters in NCR Gurgaon-Manesar, Faridabad-Ballabgarh, Meerut, Ghaziabad and Noida-Greater Noida-Kasna would become mega cities by 2032. According to estimates, NCR's population is expected to swell to 862 lakh by 2031 from 371 lakh in 2001. This sharp rise would lead to intra-regional transportation trips shooting up by almost 400%. In a ripple effect, intra-city trips would also increase significantly causing major congestion on roads across the region. Transport planners are of the opinion that existing national highways connecting Delhi would be reduced to mere urban corridors due to hectic urban development along these stretches.

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, November 7, 2009.

Haphazard parking an headache for traffic cops: With more than five lakh vehicles in the city, parking is a major problem faced by the people and the traffic department. The woes of the traffic department have been compounded by the encroachments and haphazard parking of vehicles along the roads. The illegal parking stands which have cropped up in every nook and corner of the city also disrupt the flow of traffic. Most of the illegal parking stands are found near nursing homes, educational institutes and market places. According to the SP (traffic) Prem Chandra, the illegal parking of vehicles and encroachments near bus and tempo stands have adversely affected the flow of traffic. "We are trying to check the illegal parking. Around 5 to 10 vehicles are towed away every day to make the vehicular movement smooth. But nothing can be done as there are no proper parking areas in the old localities," Chandra added. 

 The Times of India, Kanpur, November 7, 2009.

Fare hike clears way for 1st cluster: After nearly 11 months of delay, the corporatization plan for Delhi’s bus-based public transport is finally back on track. Delhi Cabinet on Monday gave its approval for awarding Cluster I of corporatization of Bluelines to Star Bus Services Pvt Limited, which was the lowest bidder. The agreement will be signed this week after which the operator will be given six months to procure the buses. The corporatization process was put on the backburner for the last few months as the rate quoted by the lowest bidder, about Rs 47.5 per bus per km, was higher than what government was planning to pay. With the recent hike in bus fares coupled by a Cabinet decision to allow advertising in buses, the financial commitment has got reduced substantially, making the process viable again. ‘‘The go-ahead to corporatization scheme is another step towards the phasing out Bluelines. With the bus fare revision and the Cabinet nod to allow advertising on buses, we hope that the financial burden on the government to run this service will get substantially reduced,’’ said Arvinder Singh Lovely, transport minister.

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, November 10, 2009.

BMTC expands fleet: Enticing the public to get used to its colourful range of buses, the BMTC added 380 more vehicles to its fleet on Saturday. These are part of the first of 1,000 buses sanctioned under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Union urban development minister S Jaipal Reddy inaugurated them on Saturday. The 380 included 111 Volvo low-floor air-conditioned, 66 Tata air-conditioned semi-low-floor and 203 Leyland buses. Starting his address by saying he understands Kannada as it is Telugu's sister language, Reddy explained the Centre's focus on urban bodies. "Today, 50% of the world population lives in urban areas. In India, it is only 30%. But this will increase in the coming years. Migration from rural areas is unavoidable. In this context, improving urban infrastructure, especially transport, is very important," he said. Commenting on Bangalore's infamous traffic, he said: "This city, known for information technology and as a peace-loving place, is also famous for traffic jams. I am not a great fan of flyovers. I wouldn't ask people not to buy vehicles, but I would urge them to use public transport as much as possible."

Source: The Times of India, Bangalore, November 15, 2009.

Bangalore kids cycle to school: A group of girls near the busy Old Airport Road in India's tech hub Bangalore bicycle to school every day as a lifestyle statement --- green transport is cool "Eight of my friends and I ride our bicycles to school every day. We don't use public transport. We ride bicycles as they are safer and environment-friendly," Seema P, a student of Class 8 of Sacred Heart Girls High School, HAL, Bangalore, told IANS. Rahul Mishra, a student Class 10 at St. Joseph's Boys High School, Museum Road, in the heart of the city, said the same. "I love to ride my bicycle. Bicycle causes no pollution and is an environment-friendly mode of transport. I come to school every day in my bicycle." Karnataka's Transport Department is trying to spread this lifestyle statement to reduce congestion in this jammed city. Recently, it organised a Bicycle Eco Rally among school children at Malleswaram Grounds here. Around 200 school children took part.

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, November 21, 2009.

To discourage car use, govt plans more tax: In a bid to bring down level of air pollution in the city, Delhi government plans to restrict the number of private vehicles to its present level. As per the Delhi climate change action plan, number of private four-wheelers about 10 lakh now should not increase anymore till 2012. Chief secretary Rakesh Mehta said the government would initiate measures to ensure the number of private vehicles in the city remains at the present level. "We will formulate a policy to restrict vehicular growth. Our roads have been made with a certain carrying capacity which has already been breached. Now there is no more space for vehicles,'' he said. One measure that seems to be in the offing is more congestion tax on cars. "The government is keen to promote greater use of public transport and discourage use of private vehicles by increasing tax on private cars,'' said Mehta. The money collected from the congestion tax would add to a transport fund that would be used by the government to fund public transport projects.

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, November 22, 2009.

“Footpaths make all the difference”: If today’s cities are a battleground between cars and people, then Enrique Penalosa is firmly on the side of those who prefer walking to wheels. “The single biggest difference between the infrastructure of an advanced nation and a backward nation is its footpaths, not its highways,” the former Mayor of the Colombian capital Bogota told The Hindu during a visit to Chennai on Thursday. “Look at the poorest African nations — they will all have some highway … But it is the quality of the footpath that determines the quality of life in a city,” he says, pointing out that in European cities, large areas are roped off for pedestrians and a vibrant street life, while many roads have more space for walkers and cyclists than for car traffic. In his years as Bogota Mayor, Mr. Penalosa widened footpaths, reduced the number of cars on the roads in peak hours, created a world-class bus rapid transit system, reclaimed waterfronts for the public, and — in a move that nearly got him impeached — banned cars from parking on pavements.

Source: The Hindu, Chennai, November 22, 2009. 

Cess likely for private car owners: Private car owners may soon have to shell out more money as cess in addition to the road tax they now pay. The amount collected would be spent on social security cover to all transport workers. The state cabinet, which met on Wednesday, cleared a draft Bill to levy such a cess in addition to road tax paid by private vehicle owners. It will be moved during the winter session of the state assembly, said finance minister Asim Dasgupta, adding that it would not be imposed on any mode of public transport. "The revenue collected as cess will be used on a social welfare scheme for transport workers," Dasgupta said. The cess levied would be less than 10% of road tax payable by private car owners.

Source: The Times of India, Kolkata, November 26, 2009.

Car pooling ideas invited to cut traffic: In its initiative to introduce and operationalise car pooling in Bangalore to reduce traffic density and thereby decongest the city’s roads, the Directorate of Urban Land Transport is inviting suggestions from the general public. Director of Urban Land Transport Mohammed Mohsin told Express that the car pool website and database are to be created, owned and maintained by the government or an independent third party not affiliated to the government. He said that the car pool database allows the commuters to find fellow car-poolers with similar work schedules and travel patterns in their area. “Commuters register their trips and run a match list to track their travel,’’ Mohsin added. He said that to encourage car pooling in the city, incentives like tax advantages, free parking, guaranteed ride home, fare reimbursement and discounts for car servicing and car insurance should be offered.

Source: Express Buzz, Bangalore, November 28, 2009. 

Civic body’s latest: Pay-n-park scheme on all city roads soon: If you are planning to buy a vehicle but don’t have provision for parking, think again. Moving a step ahead in its bid to discourage citizens from using their private vehicles, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) — which is already imposing fee for parking on major city roads — has now decided to introduce the pay-and-park scheme on its entire 1,800-km stretch of roads across the city. “The proposal to introduce pay-and-park on all city roads will soon be tabled in the standing committee for approval. This is extension of the pay-and-park service started on major city roads,” a civic officer said. He said the civic administration would soon start charging citizens for parking their vehicles on any of the roads owned by the civic body. The PMC collects a revenue of Rs 60 lakh for parking on main roads and parking zones. It is estimated that revenue collection will increase to Rs 2 crore after the introduction of pay-and-park service on all the civic roads constructed as per the development plan, officials said.

Source: The Indian Express, Pune, November 29, 2009. 

Pimpri: fine for illegal parking on highway: Commercial vehicles parked in no parking zones on the Pune-Mumbai Highway in Pimpri-Chinchwad will have to shell out heavy fines from Monday. Commercial vehicle owners would have to cough up fines ranging from Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000 for flouting parking rules. Traffic police officials said the drive would be first implemented on the 13-kilometre Nigdi-Dapodi stretch on Pune-Mumbai Highway from Monday. After this, it would be implemented in other areas of the city. For illegal parking, heavy vehicles like trucks and buses would be fined Rs 5,000, light commercial vehicles (LCV) Rs 2,500, cabs and jeeps Rs 2,000, six and three seaters Rs 3,000 and road rollers Rs 3,000. According to the traffic police, the fines would be collected under Section 208 of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1949. Under this section, the municipal corporation can impose fines on vehicle owners for parking vehicles in no parking zones. The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has authorised the traffic police department to impose the fine.

Source: The Indian Express, Pune, November 29, 2009.

Committed to non-motorised, public transport in cities: Reddy: With Metro Rail becoming a buzzword for travel in the capital, the Centre today said it was committed to promoting non-motorised and public transport in metropolitan cities like Delhi. Union Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy also said the BRT system in Delhi got much flak due to "upper-class dominated media perception" but has come out as a "success". "The Ministry is committed to promote non-motorised and public transport," Reddy said at the conclusion of a three-day conference on urban mobility here in which experts from various fields discussed issues pertaining to urban transport. Reddy said he was a "critic" of private transport for environmental reasons and traffic congestion. "We tend to spend more time in traffic jams than at the workplace," he said, referring to the worsening traffic situation in Delhi and other Metros of the country. Referring to media reports which was critical of the Delhi government for introducing the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in a part of the city, he said it was an "upper class dominated media perception".

Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, December 5, 2009. 

Five solar rickshaws to go on-road: The municipal corporation here has shortlisted five rickshaw pullers of the city for allotting them solar-cum-battery operated rickshaws. These will be allotted on Wednesday at a formal ceremony. A total of 10 solar rickshaws will be launched, though five more pullers are yet to shortlisted by the civic body, which is the nodal agency of the UT administration for launching the scheme. Confirming the development, TPS Phoolka, joint commissioner of the MC said, “We have shortlisted five rickshaw pullers who will get the battery operated-cum-solar rickshaws on Wednesday.” The eco-friendly move had hit a roadblock as despite a number of applications there was hardly any applicant who fulfilled the criteria. This was because the authorities at that time had said that most of the rickshaw pullers were migrants and they seldom stayed in the city for long. The UT administration then appointed MC as the nodal agency and handed over the solar rickshaws to it. Except nominal maintenance charges, these vehicles would be given free of cost to pullers.

Source: The Times of India, Chandigarh, December 6, 2009.

CM to transport dept: Add 10,000 more buses: To improve transport services in the state, chief minister Mayawati has directed the transport department officials to add 10,000 more buses in the fleet in the current financial year. Reviewing a meeting of the transport department here on Sunday, Mayawati said that load factor of the buses should be increased by regulating the movement of buses during peak hours. She said that more transport corporation buses should be plied on the routes connecting national highways which have considerable population. She also directed the officers to expedite the purchase of 3,510 buses for which government had already allocated an amount of Rs 626.14 crore. The officers at the meeting told the chief minister that under Jawaharlal Nehru National Rural Urban (JNNRUM) scheme seven cities of the state would get 1,310 buses in which Lucknow and Kanpur would receive 300 buses, Allahabad, Varanasi and Meerut 150 buses each, Agra 200 buses and Mathura 60 buses.

Source: The Times of India, Lucknow, December 7, 2009.

Modi suggests use of public transport to fight global warming: More people should use public transport to save future generations from dangers of global warming, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi said here today. "Global warming is a major threat facing the world today. There is a need to cut down the use of vehicles and increase the use of public transport," Modi said while inaugurating the second edition of the Kankaria Carnival here. "To save the future generation from global warming, public transport system like Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS), is a solution," he said. Modi had also inaugurated the second phase of the BRTS which connects the east and west parts of the city. "I appeal to the people of the city that this BRTS should become part of their lives, and more and more people should start using it," he said. Modi appreciated cleanliness maintained in vicinity of Kankaria Lake. "Last year over 50 lakh people including politicians, bureaucrats and diplomats visited the Kankaria lake. They all found it clean and well maintained. This is amazing that people equal to the population of the city visited the lake in last one year,"

Source: Daily News and Analysis, Ahmedabad, December 25, 2009.

Cept has plans to decongest Ahmedabad arteries: Are you tired of navigating the chock-a-block roads of Ahmedabad during the peak traffic hours? Well a Centre for Environment Planning and Technology (Cept) research has a solution. "A policy of congestion charge can be considered as the most viable alternative for solving the growing traffic problem in Ahmedabad," says the award winning research of Cept University. The research done by Lavinder Walia, a Cept student, also predicts that that if the current rate of rise in number of vehicles continue in the city, by 2031 there will be 730 vehicles per thousand population, of which 507 will be cars. The research has bagged award for 'excellence best research work' in urban transport in India from the ministry of urban development. Talking about the research, professor of CEPT, HM Shivanand Swamy who was the guide for the research said, "The study reveals that the number of vehicles in the city will be around 70 lakh by 2031. This means chaos." On the possible solutions to the problem, Swamy said that people should be encourage to switch from private vehicles to public transport.

Source: Daily News & Analysis, Ahmedabad, December 27, 2009.

Delhi may levy cess on outstation vehicles: Sheila Dikshit: Vehicles coming into the national capital from outside may have to pay a cess if Delhi government has its way, a move aimed at minimising the vehicular pollution in the city. Chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who has been pushing for modernisation of the traffic management system in Delhi, said the government was seriously considering levying a surcharge on such vehicles, and a decision might be in the offing soon. "Yes, we are toying with the idea. We are examining whether we can have a kind of a toll tax for the vehicles coming into the city like other satellite towns including Gurgaon and Noida," Dikshit said in an interview. Dikshit said she has already directed officials to study the "gains and losses" of the proposals implemented in these cities. "For instance, Gurgaon has a toll tax going into Gurgaon. Noida also has it... I have asked the officials to study it. See the impact. What will be the losses, what will be the gains and what will be the impact on the people." Delhi has 37 entry points, and Dikshit hinted that initially the toll tax may be levied in only some of the selected points.

Source: Daily News & Analysis, New Delhi, December 28, 2009.

Govt to come up with traffic plan for 7 cities: The state government is set to prepare city mobility plans (CMP) for seven cities where urban infrastructure development projects are being executed under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) — a flagship scheme of the Central government. The CMPs will be chalked out following directives from the Union Ministry of Urban Development. The seven cities are Allahabad, Kanpur, Agra, Varanasi, Meerut, Mathura and Lucknow. The state Urban Development department has proposed the name of Delhi-based Urban Mass Transit Company Limited (UMTC) for appointment as consultant to prepare the plans. “The proposal to finalise UMTC as consultant has been sent for the Cabinet’s approval,” said Alok Ranjan, Principal Secretary of the state Urban Development department. The consultant will suggest measures required to reduce traffic congestion on busy routes and control pollution. This will help in improving urban transport system in these cities, he added.

Source: The Indian Express, Lucknow, January 3, 2010

In Court

Bio-diesel poser for Centre: Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the petroleum ministry to clarify within 14 days why it had banned the use of bio-diesel as vehicular fuel. A bench of acting Chief Justice B. Bhattacharya and Justice K.K. Prasad passed the order after hearing a plea by green activist Subhash Dutta. Dutta said bio-diesel would help control pollution from auto-emission. He told the court that the Centre had earlier encouraged the production of bio-diesel but when a large number of people started manufacturing bio-diesel, the ministry banned its use. He said the Union government had also lifted excise duty and minimised import duty on bio-diesel. State advocate-general Balai Ray said: “The state had started using the fuel on an experimental basis. But after the ministry’s order, the experiment was stopped. ”The matter will come up for hearing after five weeks.

Source: The Telegraph, November 28, 2009.

South Asian countries

50 per cent of Hyderabad vehicles causing air pollution: 
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Sindh, has said that 50 per cent of vehicles in the Hyderabad city are smoke-emitting, causing health hazards and air pollution. EPA Director Sohail Farhad said this while talking to reporters here on Monday. The agency is observing the Environment Week from Nov 16 to Nov 21. He said most of the vehicle owners, particularly transporters, were using loose and substandard oil, creating health hazards for the people. Un-tuned vehicles running on diesel were more dangerous, he added. Responding to a question, he said his department was observing the Environmental Week in Hyderabad to create awareness among the transporters and the public in this regard. He said on the first day of the week, 50 per cent out of 80 vehicles inspected were found as smoke-emitting and dangerous for environment. Such awareness campaigns would also be observed in Karachi, Sukkur and other districts of the province, he added. Earlier, an EPA inspection team paid surprise visits in Hala Naka, Qasim Chowk, Ponam Chowk, Heero Chowk and Hussainabad and inspected vehicles, issuing red stickers to the owners of defective vehicles.

Source: The News, November 17, 2009.

Islamabad’s air is degrading alarmingly: The federal capital is turning into a ‘hot island’ from a ‘green city’ as the quality of air is degrading alarmingly. In November, the Air Quality Index (AQI) rose to 140.07 micro-gram/m against the safe limit of 35 microgram per cubic metre. According to the parameters of the index designed by the Central Laboratory for Environmental Analysis and Networking (CLEAN) of Pak-EPA, the quality of air would turn ‘hazardous’ - the last category of AQ - if remedial measures were not taken to improve the quality of air. The air quality of Islamabad has already crossed the categories of ‘good’, ‘moderate’ and ‘unhealthy’. Director General Pakistan Environment Protection Agency Asif Shuja Khan explained that as moisture in the air disappeared in the absence of rainfall coupled with pollution generated by vehicular traffic, stone crushers and construction activities; the quality of air deteriorated alarmingly and the capital city was moving towards a ‘hot island’.

Source: The Dawn, Islamabad, December 1, 2009.

Hong Kong air pollution: 'life-threatening' levels: Hong Kong's roadside air pollution reached life-threatening levels one in every eight days last year, a report said Monday, citing figures obtained from the government. The roadside air pollution index recorded by the Environmental Protection Department showed there were 44 days of "very high pollution" in the Central district last year, the South China Morning Post said. The figure was significantly higher than 39 days in 2008 and 13 days in 2005, the newspaper said. "Very high pollution" levels -- with the air pollution index exceeding 100 -- can significantly aggravate the symptoms of people with heart or respiratory illness, the department said. Healthy people may experience irritation to the eyes, wheezing, coughing and sore throats. A roadside station in the densely-populated Mongkok district recorded 37 "very high pollution" days last year, compared to just one five years ago, the report said.

Source: AFP, January 4, 2010.

Beijing wants bicyles to reclaim its streets: Beijing's city government wants to reverse the declining trend of people using bicycles to help ease notoriously bad pollution and growing traffic chaos, state media said on Sunday. Twenty years ago, more than 80 percent of residents in China's capital cycled but that proportion has shrunk to little under a fifth, state news agency Xinhua said, as an economic boom increased the popularity of cars. The government wants to ensure that around a quarter of the population uses bicycles by 2015. They hope to achieve this by restoring bike lanes which had been taken over for vehicle use and by building more parking places, said Liu Xiaoming, head of the Municipal Communications Commission. "The government will build more parking lots for bikes alongside bus and subway stations so that cyclists could easily transfer to other transport vehicles," the report said.

Source: Reuters, January 24, 2010.