Kolkata Municipal Corporation has an area of 185 km2 and the Kolkata Metropolitan Area is spread over 1,750 km2 with 15 million people. Pollution levels in Kolkata are high and on the rise. The city will have to take steps to reduce motorisation, so that it can deal with congestion and air toxins. The city is constrained by the road space – it has less than 10 per cent of its land area under roads, against Delhi’s 21 per cent. Therefore, even though the city has fewer cars than Delhi the result is the same – growing congestion and pollution. It is important to expand the infrastructure for buses and not cars.
First generation action has taken roots but the city has yet to meet the clean air standards. Kolkata is making efforts to reduce air pollution – its decision to phase out 15-year-old commercial vehicles from plying within the Kolkata Metropolitan Area and to make a transition from old polluting two-stroke engines to cleaner four-stroke engines running on LPG are steps in the right direction. But much more will have to be done.
Air and mobility facts
Congestion: Average journey speed is as low as 18 km per hour. (Ministry of Urban Development and Wilbur Smith Associates report 2008.)