Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: “The Urban Commute and How it Contributes to Pollution and Energy” Report
Mains level: Importance of curbing Vehicular Pollution
Report on Urban pollution and energy consumption from Commuting
- An analysis of 14 cities in India on how they fare when it comes to pollution and energy consumption from urban commuting was conducted by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
- Kolkata is the top-performing megacity. Bhopal leads the list on the lowest overall emissions.
- Delhi and Hyderabad are the two cities that fare at the bottom of the table in terms of pollution and energy use.
A National crisis
- The report titled ‘The Urban Commute and How it Contributes to Pollution and Energy’, compiled by the CSE, was released in Kolkata.
- Motorization in India is explosive. Initially, it took 60 years (1951-2008) for India to cross the mark of 105 million registered vehicles.
- Thereafter, the same number of vehicles was added in a mere six years (2009-15).
- According to the report, though metropolitan cities scored better than megacities due to lower population, lower travel volume and lower vehicle numbers, they were at risk due to a much higher share of personal vehicle trips.
Highlights of the Ranking
- In the study, with an aggregate of toxic emissions from urban commuting practices, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, the cities were ranked based on calculations of heat trapping (CO2).
- The study took two approaches to rank the cities one based on overall emission and energy consumption and the other on per person trip emissions and energy consumption.
- Six megacities (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad) and eight metropolitan cities (Bhopal, Lucknow, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kochi and Vijayawada) were evaluated.
- In terms of overall emissions and energy consumption, Bhopal was followed by Vijayawada, Chandigarh and Lucknow.
- Kolkata, which comes in at the sixth place on overall emissions, won among the six megacities.
- In fact, smaller cities such as Ahmedabad and Pune ranked below Kolkata for overall emissions.
- Delhi ranked at the bottom of the table for overall emission. Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai fared a little better than Delhi.
- Kolkata provides a resounding message that despite population growth and rising travel demand, it is possible to contain motorization.
- This is possible only with a well established public transport culture, compact city design, high street density and restricted availability of land for roads and parking.
- Mumbai, the report stated, had the highest GDP but a lower rate of motorization compared with other megacities, proving that income levels were not the only reason for deciding a population’s dependence on automobiles.
- Both Kolkata and Mumbai have grown with a unique advantage of a public transport spine well integrated with existing land use patterns.
- Meanwhile Chennai was the first city to adopt a non-motorized transport (NMT) policy in 2004 that aims to arrest the decline of walking or cycling by creating a network of footpaths, bicycle tracks and greenways.