Sanjam Preet Singh
Tribune News Service
Kolkata, August 27
The use of personal vehicles is the highest in Chandigarh among 14 cities that have been analysed on “overall emissions and energy use”, and “per-travel trip emissions”.
It is close to 80 per cent in the City Beautiful followed by Lucknow (70 per cent), Ahmedabad (65 per cent) and Jaipur (60 per cent).
This and much more forms part of a report titled “The Urban Commute”, a study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), released here on August 24.
The 14 cities under study are Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad (grouped as megacities in the report), Ahmedabad, Pune, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kochi, Bhopal, Vijayawada and Chandigarh (metropolitan cities).
The study ranks the cities on the basis of emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide and toxic pollutants such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, as well as energy consumption.
The high car use in Chandigarh reflects in the city’s poor ranking on the per-travel trip emissions. The city is the second worst on this count, with Hyderabad at the bottom. So, what is the impact on the environment? The report states, “Every time, a trip is made in Chandigarh, where the per capita car ownership is the highest, it is likely to have a much worse impact on the environment than in the megacities of Kolkata and Mumbai, which have the best public transport systems in the country. This is worrisome as Chandigarh is already a tricity with Chandigarh-Panchkula-Mohali forming a large urban agglomeration where travel patterns are likely to be similar.
In such a scenario, the tricity may become an extremely polluted place in the years to come if corrective steps are not taken in time.” On the parameter of total emissions,
Chandigarh is at the third position because “it is small in size and has short average trip lengths across all modes”. The report acknowledges some of the initiatives of the UT Administration such as GPS devices in buses and laying of cycle tracks but, at the same time, sounds a note of caution.
“In Chandigarh, the ownership of cars per 1,000 people is among the highest in the country. Cities like this will have to be extremely careful about enabling massive scaling up of sustainable modes,” it reads.
The level of motorisation in Chandigarh is also on the higher side. The report reads, “It is stunning that some of the metropolitan cities that have comparatively smaller number of registered vehicles have recorded considerably high average annual growth rates. This is as high as 10 per cent in Chandigarh, 14 per cent in Jaipur, 15 per cent in Bhopal and 18 per cent in Pune.”
The report lays stress on the use of public transport that will help in arresting the degradation of the environment. It explains by way of an example. On an average, a bus carries between 40 and 60 passengers. This is equal to what 30 cars carry. A bus emits about four to six times what a car does. Thus, fuel consumption and air pollution is reduced to one-sixth when users of 30 cars take a bus.
Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director-Research and Advocacy, CSE, said: “The review became necessary as greenhouse gas emissions from transport — though the third highest among all sectors — have recorded the steepest increase. This is responsible for health-damaging toxic exposure.”
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