Smog Digest | Centre for Science and Environment


Smog Digest

March - May 2012

Air pollution in Indian cities

Air quality in Shillong far from satisfactory: CAG: The ambient air quality of Shillong and the entire state of Meghalaya in general is "far from satisfactory", mainly because of emission of air pollutants from automobiles, says the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). Poor compliance with rules by implementing agencies like the municipal boards and healthcare establishments coupled with "ineffective monitoring" by Meghalaya State Pollution Board (MSPB) resulted in continued environmental pollution and health hazards leading to increase in the number of patients suffering from air and water-borne diseases, said the report tabled in the assembly on Friday. "The extent of pollution of air caused by 481 polluting industries was not monitored by the MSPCB and coal mining activities were carried on in the state without authorization," the CAG said. The CAG reported that water of 28 out of 31 water bodies in six districts of the state were not "fit for drinking".
Source: The Times of India, Shillong, March 25, 2012.

Pollution in the air, not in TNPCB stats: The air you breathe could be much more polluted than the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) would have you believe. A group of environment agencies, which collected data for over a year, says the board does not have enough stations to monitor ambient air quality in Chennai. The few existing stations are in the wrong places and do not provide an accurate picture of the rising pollution levels. There are no monitors, for example, near the city's highly polluted dumping yards at Kodungaiyur and Perungudi. At a workshop to analyze urban air quality of Chennai organized by the Institute of Financial Management and Research (IFMR) and Urban Emissions.Info, experts pointed out that Chennai's air pollution levels were among the worst in the country but the city lacked a proper system to monitor the problem. Rajesh Rangarajan, project lead of IFMR's India Pollution Map, said monitoring by the pollution control board should be extended to the suburban areas.
Source: TOI, Chennai, March 28, 2012

J&K govt has set up two 2 labs to check pollution: Two laboratories one each at Jammu and Srinagar have been established by J&K state pollution control board (SPCB) for analyzing the level of pollutants in the state, the state government said. Minister for forest and environment Mian Altaf Ahmad told Legislative Council here that upgradation of these laboratories is in progress. He said for monitoring of air quality, stations have been set up at Khrew Khanmoh, Lasjan and Rajbagh in Kashmir while in Jammu such stations have come up up at Narwal, Jewel Chowk, Bari Brahmana, Kathua and Samba Industrial Estates. Replying to another question by Naresh Kumar Gupta, the minister said state forest corporation has earned a profit of Rs 22964.51 lakh during 2009-2010. He said, apart from realizing Rs. 8.780 lakh on account of penalty from defaulter contractors from 1985 till date the Corporation has received Rs. 2068.624 lakh on account of insurance claims of the losses.
Source: The Times of India, Jammu, March 29, 2012.

Delhi air quality was worst in March: Study: Dust in the Delhi skies in March brought the air quality down to the worst levels in the last one year and the increase in total pollution was as high as that caused by Diwali fireworks, says a study. The analysis of air pollution by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, during Feb 23-March 22 found that the level of particulate matter (PM 2.5) deteriorated from "moderate" to "very poor" around March 17. As per the latest reading, the particulate matter level is coming down but is still 20-30 percent higher than normal. The IITM monitors a wide range of pollutants from 10 different weather stations in the national capital region under the ministry of earth sciences project System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) is tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, April 2 2012

Charminar tops pollution chart: The Charminar area has dislodged city's pollution "chart toppers" Punjagutta and Paradise crossroads to emerge the most polluted in the city. The worrying trend was recorded by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) in 2011. The air quality is measured by determining the quantity of 12 different Components. Experts say that the most worrying aspect is the high Respirable Particulate Matter (RSPM) mostly emitted from automobiles that affects health. Figures obtained from the PCB for 2011show that Charminar recorded 105 microgram of RSPM per cubic metre (mpcm) as against 99 mpcm measured in 2010. On the other hand, Punjagutta showed a marked decrease from 109 mpcm in 2010 to 99 mpcm in 2011. Besides this, the quantity of RSPM in Charminar is way above the annual average of 60 mpcm, a standard set by the Central Pollution Control Board.
Source: The Times of India, Hyderabad, April 11 2012.

Indore: Air is most polluted at Kothari Market: Figures compiled by MP Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) regional office, Indore suggest that presence of respirable suspended particulate (RSPM) in the ambience of Indore has increased by 50% of the permissible limit. The MPPCB collects samples from three locations; Vijay Nagar, Kothari Market and Sanwer Road and of these places, Kothari Market has the highest presence of RSPM. The presence of this pollutant was 145, 121 and 211 µg/meter3 from January to March in Vijay Nagar area, while the same was 171, 186 and 193 µg/m3 in Kothari Market and 133, 160 and 181 µ g/m3 in Sanwer Road in the same period. The permissible limit of RSPM in the air is 100 µg/m3. RSPM mainly comprises dust particles of less than 10 microns which can enter the body and cause several respiratory ailments. “Growing network of cement concrete roads, never ending construction activities and reducing roadside plantation is mostly responsible for higher presence of RSPM in the ambience in the city,” said MPPCB chief chemist Aparna Baapt Apart from construction activities, the large number vehicles have aided in the increase of RSPM in the city’s ambience, claimed a scientist from MPPCB Indore who didn’t want not to be named.
Source: dailybhaskar.com, Indore, May 22, 2012.

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Health impacts

Airborne diseases affecting large section of citizens: It is that time of the year when various airborne diseases affect a large section of people in Assam, an occurrence now being witnessed in Guwahati as it gets covered by dust and grime. In all the areas close to major roadways and in settlements lying parallel to the Brahmaputra, the daytime atmosphere is saturated by suspended particulate matters. It takes only a few minutes to be caked in a layer of dust, and the young and the ailing are among those who are particularly vulnerable. Doctors have reported a rise in cases of flu, cough and fever, a trend that was also noticeable last year. With no reduction in air-pollution in sight for the last few weeks, doctors have urged people to be cautious while spending time outdoors. Noted physician Dr Jnanen Sarma, head of the paediatrics department of Gauhati Medical College Hospital said that cases of dysentery, flu and fever have increased.
Source: The Assam Tribune, Guwahati, March 21, 2012.

Pollution makes you look older: Ludhiana: The level of pollution in this industrial city is not just affecting your lungs, the beauty of young girls too is at stake. When compared with women of their age from other cities, Ludhiana beauties look older. Though premature aging is not gender specific and varies with level of exposure of skin to the polluted environment, it affects women more, psychologically and socially. Dr Bimal Kanish, consultant dermatologist at Christian Medical College and Hospital ( CMCH), said, ''Ludhiana is one of the most polluted cities in the world with industries and vehicles pumping out huge volumes of smoke resulting in very high Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM). This in turn shows its impact on skin of residents. The direct effect is that the pollution blocks pores of the skin which leads to less moisture levels and skin looks dehydrated. The dryness of skin results in itching, blemishes and ultimately premature aging.
Source: The Times of India. Ludhiana, April 12 2012.

Chennai running out of breath: Chennai seems to be in news for all the unhealthy reasons. After being labelled the diabetes capital of the country, it is now being called the asthma capital. With vehicle population in TN crossing the 1.5-crore mark and Chennai alone accounting for 37 lakh carbon-monoxide emitting demons, doctors said on the eve of World Asthma Day the number of people suffering from breathing disorders and respiratory illnesses had risen. “Chennai is the asthma capital of the country, thanks to its humid weather. The situation will improve only when pollution comes down,” chest specialist K. Jaganmoorthy said. Of the 400 patients that crowd the out-patient department at Institute of Thoracic Medicine in Chennai, nearly 40 per cent suffer from obstructive lung diseases such as asthma, allergic bronchitis and emphysema. Experts warned asthma had become a major global public health problem and the number of patients had doubled in the past 10 years.
Source: The Asian Age, Chennai, May 1, 2012.

Carcinogens new parameters for air quality standards: Carcinogens like Benzene, Benzo (a) pyrene, Arsenic and Nickel will now be the focus while monitoring for Ambient Air Quality Standards. While a notification was issued in this respect in 2009 by Central Pollution Control Board under Government of India, all the states were given about three years to procure the required systems and infrastructure development for real time or continuous ambient air quality monitoring. It is to be mentioned that while Benzene has been classified as Group I carcinogen, Benzo (a) pyrene (BaP) has been catalogued as Group 2 A Human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Officials at Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board revealed that Andhra Pradesh is almost at the same stage of introducing these new parameters as others in the country. Hyderabad, without any doubt, being majorly polluted with respect to aforementioned contaminants will see these carcinogens being monitored within next two months.
Source: Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad, May 17, 2012.

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Fuel and vehicle technology

3 more cities switch to green norms: Three more cities are switching over to Bharat Stage (BS)-4 emission norms from Thursday. These cities are Ankaleshwar in Gujarat, Hisar in Haryana and Bharatpur in Rajasthan. Already 13 cities, including Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Surat, Kanpur, Agra, Lucknow and Solapur are implementing the BS-4 emission norms from 2010 when the national auto fuel policy was announced. These cities, auto experts point out, comprise 40 per cent of the domestic car market. The ministry of petroleum is confident that the BS-4 emission norms will extend to 50 cities by 2015. But automobile experts are wondering why cities such as Bharatpur and Hisar were selected over more densely automobile populated cities. Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers director-general Vishnu Mathur pointed out,
Source: Deccan Chronicle, New Delhi, March 1, 2012.

Solar hydrogen cheap alternative to fuel, energy: Varanasi: How about using solar hydrogen energy to generate electricity and run vehicles? While the idea may sound interesting, the hydrogen energy laboratory in the Department of Physics, Banaras Hindu University has already come up with feasibility study of solar hydrogen energy, moving ahead with generation of hydrogen energy as alternative source of energy and fuel. The tapping of solar hydrogen energy also provides the answer to alternative and clean use of energy, replacing the exhaustible petroleum and coal-based power generation which produces carbon dioxide and other hazardous pollutants in the atmosphere. If the expert in hydrogen energy generation in BHU is to be believed, the country with immense potential of tapping solar energy can look forward to generation of solar hydrogen, which could prove to be cheaper and cleaner alternative to fuel and energy.
Source: The Times of India, Varanasi, April 12 2012.

Mileage labels on cars soon, norms for auto companies from 2015: After more than four years of wrangling, the government has cleared fuel mileage standards and labeling for new cars. The norms, to be implemented soon, will force automobile manufacturers to put government certified fuel efficiency labels on each car they sell and improve efficiency of the cars they sell every year. While the labels will become mandatory soon, the standards will kick in by 2015, giving manufacturers time to improve the technology under the bonnet to meet the standards. The labels will certify the fuel efficiency of the car model under standard conditions and where it stands in comparison to other cars in the same category. At the moment, the top ten manufacturers with combined sales of over 96% of the market have an average fuel efficiency of 16.42 km per litre. By 2015, this will be improved to 18.15 km per litre and by 2020, this will have to be ratcheted up to 20.79 km per litre on average.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, April 16, 2012.

Diesel vehicles on rise in TN: With each passing day, diesel vehicles keep piling up on TN roads at a massive rate, thanks to government subsidy which has made the price of diesel cheaper than that of petrol, so as to help farming and public transport sectors. Authorities estimate that share of diesel vehicle in overall passenger vehicles must have crossed 50 per cent in the state. And, the sale of diesel cars has increased by 40 per cent in the city. “The penchant for diesel vehicles has gone up considerably since last year and the eagerness for buying petrol cars among new vehicle buyers has gone down drastically ever since the country started witnessing subsequent deregulation of petrol prices,” avers a manager of a leading automobile showroom in the city. He added that they were selling around 200 petrol cars and 70 diesel cars a month early 2011 and now the sales of petrol cars have gone down to 70 per month. Sale of diesel cars has picked up by 40 per cent and 100 cars are being sold every month, he said.
Source: The Asian Age, Chennai, May 4, 2012.

Policy vacuum puts brakes on Reva's revival story: Sales of electric car Reva have dropped over 50% as a hefty subsidy scheme offered by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has lapsed six months before the rollout of a newer, better policy drafted by the National Council of Electric Mobility. The subsidy, amounting to 20% of ex-factory price or 100,000, whichever is less, had made the Reva 75,000-93,000 cheaper. "The withdrawal of this subsidy has been a setback. We were expecting it to continue," Pawan Goenka, president of the automotive sector, M&M said. M&M acquired a majority holding in the electric carmaker two years ago. Reva models now retail for 4-4.87 lakh (ex-showroom Bangalore), after the subsidy lapsed on March 31. The abrupt policy vacuum threatens to disrupt a promising turnaround M&M had managed to engineer at Reva after acquiring it.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, May 4, 2012.

Commercial vehicles in National Capital region duck green norms: Trucks and tourist buses with national permits and registered in NCR that need to move cargo or people between two points in NCR are now required to comply with Bharat Stage IV emission standards. The notification was issued this February but sources claim there is negligible compliance. With the Delhi government planning to go big on reining in overloaded trucks and polluting vehicles to bring down emission levels in the city, this has become a major point of worry. Delhi adopted BS IV standards in 2010 but commercial vehicles with national permits tried to wriggle out of it by claiming that clean fuel would not be available to them outside of NCR. Now, the ministry of road transport and highways has made a formal amendment to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, making it mandatory for all commercial vehicles that travel point-to-point within the NCR to comply with BS IV standards.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, May 7, 2012.

Bidding adieu to pollution, zoo to get battery cars: Pollution has always been a major concern at the Nehru Zoological Park which is all set to launch 25 battery operated vehicles in its 360 acre premises. Zoo officials said that the Zoo Authority of AP has given its nod on Wednesday and soon they would start the process by floating tenders. Apart from cutting down pollution levels, the vehicles would also be of great help for the physically challenged visitors, senior citizens and general tourists to take a complete round of the zoo. Officials said that people get exhausted by the time they cover half of the zoo but now they can opt for a ride in this vehicle and see the entire park in about two hours. Officials stated that the vehicles would halt for a few minutes at all the important spots in the zoo including the reptile house, the butterfly park, nocturnal animal house among others. The proposed fare for adults is Rs 40 for a ride in the battery operated vehicles. For children up to 12 years, the fare would be Rs 20.
Source: The Times of India, Hyderabad, May 11, 2012.

National Electric Mobility Mission likely to launched by July: Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Praful Patel today said the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, which is aimed at promoting electric and hybrid vehicles, is likely to be launched by July, 2012. "The National Electric Mobility Mission plan to 2020 is now expected to be launched by July 2012," he said. The minister told members of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises that the National Mission for Electric Mobility was launched to promote electric mobility and manufacturing of electric vehicles in India. Besides, the members were informed about setting up of the National Council for Electric Mobility (NCEM) and National Board for Electrical Mobility (NBEM), under the Chairmanship of the Minister. A study was also conducted on behalf of the Ministry to provide a fact-based policy framework to NBEM and NCEM towards formulating the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, May 16, 2012.

Electric rickshaws to run from Metro stations: The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) would soon be operating three-wheeler electric vehicles from the Metro stations here to ensure better connectivity for the commuters. The initiative would simultaneously promote environment-friendly public transport. Sources in the NDMC said the civic body plans to introduce around 350 electric rickshaws or electric vehicles over the next three years. “The project would be taken up on the public-private-partnership model, wherein the electric rickshaws would be operated by the private players. The concessionaire would be required to mobilise finances to procure, supply, install, operate and maintain these vehicles and provide enough manpower to ensure a smooth operation of the fleet for minimum of 12 hours a day,” said an official of the municipal council. As per the proposal, the concessionaire would generate revenue through fare collection and advertisements. “However, the fares of the environment-friendly rickshaws would be fixed after consulting with NDMC,” the official added.
Source: Deccan Herald, New Delhi, May 22, 2012.

Diesel denizens feed on ‘perverse subsidy’: The raised petrol prices and the untouched diesel reflect a disturbing trend that is pushing consumers towards private diesel vehicles and hurting the country’s environment, health and economy, analysts have said. The increase announced today will mainly jack up the fuel bills of owners of small cars and two-wheeler motorbikes, the analysts said, pointing out that most big cars, and virtually all of public transport, freight trucks and railways run on diesel. “The steady increase in petrol prices and the lower price of diesel is inciting diesel-guzzling,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, the executive director of research at the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi. “The owner of a two-wheeler or a motorbike today pays more per litre of fuel than the owner of a diesel-powered sports utility vehicle.” National automobile sales patterns reveal a dramatic increase in the sale of diesel cars — from about 4 per cent of all cars in the year 2000 to nearly 50 per cent of cars sold in 2010.
Source: The Telegraph, New Delhi, May 24, 2012.

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Biofuels

IOC Faridabad unit to pump in bio-fuel; R&D unit gearing to reduce pressure on conventional fuel: The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) Limited's R&D facility in Faridabad is going to unveil second generation bio-fuels in the next 3-4 years, as a result of a decade-long rigorous research work. Confirming the development, Dr RK Malhotra, director of the research facility said, "If the research and development work initiated for second and third generation bio-fuels succeeds, in next 3-4 years the pressure on supply of fossil fuels will go down by around 10 percent. ”We are also trying to generate bio-fuels from agricultural waste such as straws of wheat, maize, rice, cotton and sugarcane pulps. Moreover, research is also being conducted on generating bio-fuels through biotechnology using enzymes," explained Dr DK Tuli, general manager (alternate energy), IOC.
Source: The Economic Times, Faridabad, March 26 2012;

Biodiesel extracted from sea algae set to propel vehicles: Extract of the slimy green algae found in abundance across India's 7,517 km coastline is all set to fuel vehicles. On Friday, the country will witness the first test run of vehicle running on B100 marine microalgal biodiesel in New Delhi. The 200 km test run will be flagged off by Union minister for earth sciences Vilasrao Deshmukh in the presence of scientists belonging to a consortium of nine laboratories led by Bhavnagar-based Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI). Unlike other biodiesels, which are a mixture of conventional diesel, the B100 biodiesel is 100 per cent extract from the microalgae. Last year, scientists achieved an important milestone in cleaner fuels when a regular diesel vehicle (TAVERA) running on B20 biodiesel prepared from marine microalgae was successfully test-driven.
Source: The Times of India, Rajkot, March 30, 2012.

Devaliya lion safari park to be pollution-free: Devaliya lion safari park, 12 km away from Sasan-Gir, is all set to go for 100 per cent pollution-free. The forest department has decided to use biodiesel made from jatropha to run all tourists vehicles used to take tourists for lions' sighting in the park "Earlier, we began running few vehicles using biodiesel for the safari. Now, we have decided to run all tourists vehicles (25 passengers' capacity bus) on this fuel. This decision has been taken to make tourist vehicles pollution free," chief conservator of forests (wildlife division), Junagadh, R L Meena said Biodiesel is more environment-friendly than other fossil fuel. "We want minimum air and noise pollution in the park," Meena said. Devaliya Park hosts Asiatic lions in a closed, but natural environment along with many other animals. The park gives tourists an actual feeling of wilderness.
Source: The Times of India, Rajkot, April 11, 2012.

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Alternative Fuels

India to have natural gas pipeline grid of 30,000-km by 2017: Jaipal Reddy: India will by 2017 have a natural gas pipeline grid of 30,000-km connecting consumption centres to source of fuel, Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy said today. "We have a country wide network of 12,000 km of gas pipeline (and another) 12,000 km of pipelines are under construction," he said speaking at the 15th Foundation Day of Petronet LNG Ltd here. "With another 7,000 km of pipelines under bidding by the (oil regulator) Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), we are looking at the emergence of a National Gas Grid of nearly 30,000 km in length by 2017, with a capacity of 875 million standard cubic meters per day (mmscmd), to take natural gas to different markets across the length and breadth of India," he said. Currently, the gas pipelines have a capacity to transport 230 mmscmd of gas.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, April 2, 2012.

17,787 rickshaws have switched over to Compressed Natural Gas: Pune: As many as 17,787 rickshaws - 39% of the total number of rickshaws in the city - have switched over to compressed natural gas (CNG) by March-end this year. CNG kits have also been fitted in 4,392 light motor vehicles (cars) in the city. According to the latest statistics available with the Regional Transport Office (RTO), around 45,000 rickshaws operate in the city, of which 17,787 run on CNG while another 8,134 run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This makes for 57% of the city's rickshaws running on environment-friendly fuel. An RTO official said, "Since the last couple of years, we have registered a significant increase in the number of applications for passing of rickshaws fitted with CNG kits. As many as 13,621 rickshaws opted for CNG kits in the last two years. Of these, 7,538 vehicles made the change in 2011-12 and 6,083 in 2010-11.
Source: The Times of India, Pune, April 14 2012.

6 new CNG outlets to cut queues in twin cities: Those using CNG vehicles no longer have to make serpentine queues at filling stations. Commercial sale of CNG would begin at six new stations in the next two months. Four new CNG stations under Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) would begin operations in Noida while two new stations would start in Greater Noida. The CNG stations in Noida which would begin commercial sale in the next couple of months are located in sectors 71, 82, 105 and 122. Similarly, in Greater Noida, two exclusive CNG-refilling stations would begin operations in Knowledge Park - V and IT City Techzone. "The district administration of Gautam Buddh Nagar has already given permission to these projects," said an official of IGL. "Commercial sale at these stations would begin as soon as IGL gets clearance from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization in Nagpur," said the official.
Source: The Times of India, Noida, April 28, 2012.

Clean air drive takes off from steel city: The state crackdown on polluting vehicles will begin from Jamshedpur. The regional transport authority (RTA) has made it mandatory for auto-rickshaws and other commercial vehicles plying within the steel city, which has two gas filling stations, to use LPG as fuel from June 1, failing which they would be denied road permits. RTA secretary Uday Pratap Singh said the decision was taken at a high-level meeting last week and a directive to this effect was conveyed to the district transport office in Jamshedpur on Monday. “Permits issued to big commercial vehicles usually remain valid for four months after which they have to get it renewed. However, from June the permits will be issued only if the vehicles meet all pollution guidelines, which includes having gas kits,” he said, adding a shift to LPG from petrol and diesel would automatically lower pollution levels. These norms, Singh said, would also be applicable to private vehicles of all kinds if they were used as pool cars, school vans or taxis.
Source: The Telegraph, Ranchi, May 20, 2012.

Auto owners told to apply for CNG kit subsidy: The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has urged rickshaw owners to take benefit of a Rs 12,000 subsidy to convert their vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG). The civic body has allocated Rs 12 crore for the scheme this year as against Rs 2 crore allotted last year. About 1,600 rickshaws installed CNG kits last year using the benefit. Around 10,000 rickshaws owners are likely to benefit this year. The owners need to get a registration from the regional transport office (RTO) for a CNG kit, following which they can apply for the subsidy. Besides, it is mandatory to have documents like driving license, PUC certificate, registration certificate, CNG fit bill, rickshaw permit and fitness certificate. PMC environment officer Mangesh Dighe said that many rickshaws owners have enquired about the subsidy programme. He said the benefit has been offered to encourage more and more vehicles run on CNG, which is an environment-friendly fuel.
Source: The Times of India, Pune, May 21, 2012.

CNG, piped natural gas network to cover 21 districts in UP: The Compressed Natural Gas and Piped Natural Gas network would be expanded to around 21 districts of eastern and western UP in a phased manner. As of now, the route for the network is proposed to start from Mirzapur in eastern UP till Saharanpur and Gautam Budh Nagar in western UP. Chairman of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board of India S Krishnan held a detailed discussion with Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani in this regard in Lucknow on Tuesday. Krishnan also discussed the details of the city gas projects with Industrial Development Commissioner Anil Kumar Gupta. “While we have prepared our proposed route to cover cities like Mirzapur, Varanasi, Jaunpur, Mau, Barabanki, Unnao, Shahjahanpur, Aligarh, Bulandshahr, etc., the regulatory board too would propose its own plan,” said Gupta. At present, 11 cities, including Lucknow, Kanpur, Firozabad, Meerut, NOIDA, Greater NOIDA, Ghaziabad, Moradabad, Agra, Mathura and Khurja, have city gas distribution network.
Source: The Indian Express, Lucknow, May 23, 2012.

State to have CNG stations soon: The state will soon have Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) filling stations in 12 cities including Jaipur. A meeting between the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and state government officials took place on May 12 where the directions were given to the company to expedite the process. A feasibility study has been conducted by the GAIL which is already running a CNG station at Kota through its subsidiary GAIL gas network. In the meeting, the company officials apprised the government about the 12 proposed locations which have been identified at Jaipur, Udaipur, Dungarpur, Jodhpur, Jhunjhunu, Bikaner, Sriganganagar, Ajmer, Barmer, Jaisalmer, Chittorgarh and Bhilwara. "In our meeting, we requested the company officials to expedite the process of city gas distribution network project in other cities. But it has to be done through the approval of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB). We hope that the identified cities will soon have CNG stations," said Sudhansh Pant, secretary, and mines & petroleum.
Source: The Times of India, Jaipur, May 27, 2012.

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In-use vehicles

Emission test drive to check air pollution: The City traffic police, in association with the Transport Department and the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, will conduct a joint drive to reduce air pollution in the City and encourage vehicle users to get bi-annual emission checks done. Commissioner of Police B G Jyotiprakash Mirji said special checks would be held this month, as March is observed as pollution control month. “It is necessary for vehicles to have emission checks every six months for which they have to obtain Pollution Under Check (PUC) certificates. But it has been found that only 15-20 per cent of the vehicles have obtained the PUC certificates,” Mirji stated. “Bangalore has the highest two-wheeler population in the world. Most vehicles running on petrol mixed with oil, and those running on diesel emit excessive smoke, causing air pollution. As a result, respiratory disorders, skin irritation and cancer are on the rise,” he explained
Source: Deccan Herald, Bangalore, March 2, 2012

Economic Survey 2011-12: Diesel price needs to be revised upward or taxed higher: Diesel price needs to be revised upward, or subjected to higher taxes, as misuse of subsidised diesel was adding to pollution and public health costs, the government's pre-budget economic report card said today. The Economic Survey of 2011-12, presented in the Parliament by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, has made the suggestions with regard to diesel prices in a chapter on 'Sustainable Development and Climate Change', which has been included in this annual document for the first time. In recent years, diesel price adjustments have lagged international prices and the budgetary subsidies for the fuel have also ballooned, the Survey noted. "Diesel prices need a large adjustment now (as China, for example, has recently undertaken), given subsidies, pollution and public health costs.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, March 15, 2012.

Luxury car buyers ‘misusing' diesel subsidy: While blaming diesel luxury car buyers for “misusing” the diesel fuel subsidy, the Economic Survey 2011-12 has said that diesel prices need a “large adjustment,” similar to what China has undertaken. A day before the Budget, the Survey has also suggested “charging high road and vehicle taxes” as an option, in case higher diesel prices are ruled out because of its inflationary impact. Diesel price adjustments have lagged international prices in recent years, and budgetary subsidies have ballooned, the Survey says adding that, “such low prices and subsidies are providing incentives for misuse, shifts to diesel use such as luxury sports utility vehicles, escalating imports in an energy-insecure country and increased pollution loads.” The auto industry, however, has been strongly opposing any plans to impose higher taxes on diesel cars citing higher fuel efficiency of such vehicles.
Source: Business Line, New Delhi, March 15, 2012.

Environmentalists welcome duty on cars: Environmentalists have welcomed the government’s tax hike on big cars and SUVs, claiming this will help reduce toxic emissions. But they warn that the government has taken no steps to curb the use of subsidised diesel in private diesel cars. Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment, warned that urgent steps must be taken to discourage “diesel consumption as also to reduce toxic emissions”, especially since dieselisation is rapidly growing in the small and medium segments which have been left untouched. “The proposed tax hike of two per cent will only affect cars with engine sizes of more than 1500 cc for diesel and 1200 cc for petrol cars. This will not make any difference to the popular models in the small and medium car segments where sales of diesel models is currently as high as 50-75 per cent, especially since, despite the recession, the sales of diesel cars have jumped 34 per cent in 2010,” said Ms Roychowdhury.
Source: Deccan Chronicle, New Delhi, March 17, 2012.

'Union Budget may not check diesel subsidy misuse': The union budget has failed to take steps to stop the misuse of diesel subsidy by private cars, said advocacy organisation Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Saturday. Anumita Roychowdhury, head of CSE's sustainable mobility team, said they supported the tax hike on big cars and sports utility vehicles but the step may not check misuse of diesel subsidy by private vehicles. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Friday announced an increase in excise duty on large cars from 22 percent to 24 percent. Sports utility vehicles would attract higher duty -- up to 27 percent. "This is urgently needed to discourage fuel guzzling and reduce toxic emissions," she said. "The budget has ignored that 'dieselization' is rapidly growing in the small and medium segments of cars and has left it untouched. The proposed tax hike will only affect cars with engine sizes of more than 1,500 cc for diesel and 1,200 cc for petrol," she said.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, March 17, 2012.

Registration tax hike to make vehicles dearer: If you were eyeing those new set of wheels, prepare to shell out more as the state government has hiked road and registration tax on vehicles. Coming within days of increases proposed in the central excise duty in the Union Budget, subsequently passed on to consumers, this is nothing short of a double whammy for a new car buyer. They will also have to contend with the spectre of increase in oil prices. Put together, this is something which car manufacturers believe would hit demand. While buyers of petrol vehicles will have to shell out an additional 2% to get cars registered once budget proposals come into effect on April 1, for diesel customers the hike will be steeper as the tax has gone up by 4%. The hike in the income tax exemption limit proposed by the Union finance minister which would save Rs 22,660 at the maximum, will not make up for these hefty twin increases within a span of around 10 days.
Source: The Times of India, Mumbai, March 27, 2012.

Vehicles causing pollution to be fined: Come May 1 and the regional transport office will start a rigorous checking drive against the motor vehicles causing pollution. The RTO has given a week-long deadline for all such vehicles which do not possess a Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate to obtain one. The motor vehicles are one of the major causes of pollution. The fact that most of the vehicle owners blatantly flout pollution norms has made RTO plan the move. "During routine checking, we have found most of the vehicles operating without a pollution under control certificate," said Sanjay Nath Jha, ARTO (enforcement). Under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, it is mandatory for the new vehicles to obtain a non-pollution certificate within a year. The certificate remains valid for a period of six months. During checking, the vehicles found plying without the certificate will be slapped a fine of Rs 1,000.
Source: The Times of India, Lucknow, April 23, 2012.

Check vehicle smoke or cough up fine: Be prepared to go to court if you are caught driving a polluting vehicle. The city traffic police along with the transport department have embarked on a drive to crack the whip on owners of polluting vehicles. Since March, the traffic police have registered cases against 156 polluting vehicles. Though, at present the number seems low, the coming days could see more being penalized with stricter implementation of the rule. “There are ample rules in the Motor Vehicles Act wherein negligent vehicle owners can be dragged to court if they are caught driving heavily polluting vehicles,” said Mr A.S. Sadashivaiah, chairman of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, which is also part of special drive to reduce air pollution in Bengaluru. “A majority of vehicles ply on the city roads without emission check certificates. It has been found that only 15 to 20 per cent of vehicles have the ‘Pollution Under Control’ certification,” added Mr Sadashivaiah.
Source: Deccan Chronicle, Bangalore, May 7, 2012.

Auto recall policy by year-end: By the end of this year, automakers may be mandated to officially announce vehicle recalls, if defects are detected after launch. The Ministry of Heavy Industries expects to begin formal talks on regulations for the same next month with the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) and industry body, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). “Till now, there have been informal discussions between SIAM and MoRTH. From next month, the Department of Heavy Industries expects to take a lead on formal talks for such a policy,” a senior bureaucrat told Business Line. Such a policy would look to define what a recall means by stipulating the conditions and the process the manufacturer needs to follow after issues are detected in a certain production batch. Manufacturers may be mandated to inform the Government of any such move, apart from issuing an official statement in the media. Incidentally, SIAM plans to pre-empt the Government's move by issuing its own set of ‘voluntary guidelines' for vehicle recalls next month itself. A draft proposal is already ready, an official said.
Source: Business Line, New Delhi, May 18, 2012.

Govt proposes fitness tests for private vehicles: The Delhi government finally seems to be waking up to the threat of environment pollution from the expanding private vehicle pool in the city. Based on an EPCA (environment pollution control authority) recommendation, the transport department is putting together a proposal for mandatory fitness checks of all private vehicles. At present, only commercial vehicles need to get an annual fitness check done at authorized regional transport offices. A senior government official said, "Discussions are on with the EPCA about the various parameters before the policy is finalized. The fitness test, called the inspection and maintenance test, will be an annual feature, and will have to be done at authorized centres only." To ensure effective compliance, the transport department has suggested making the I&M, the norm abroad, mandatory for renewal of vehicle insurance in Delhi. "The idea is that insurance will be renewed only if the fitness certificate is available," said the official.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, May 23, 2012.

No curbs on vehicular pollution: Vehicles including two-wheelers, autorickshaws and four wheelers are exhuming dark smoke on the national highway and many parts in the city limits, but transport and police department have failed to check vehicular pollution. According to Road Transport Authorities (RTA) about four lakh two-wheelers, around 1.5 lakh four-wheelers and nearly 18,000 autorickshaws run on the city roads every day. Sources said that around 25 to 30 per cent vehicles in the city exhume dark smoke. As per the norms, all vehicles are required to obtain Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates from around 40 computerised pollution testing centres in the city. Due to official failure to enforce the requisite norms for vehicular pollution control, most vehicle owners are not aware of this rule. An employee of a mobile testing centre in the city said that only commercial vehicles obtain certificates.
Source: Deccan Chronicle, Visakhapatnam, May 25, 2012.

^Top
Transportation and traffic

Green signal for multi-modal transport system in Andhra: Aiming at providing better transportation facilities in cities, government today decided to introduce multi-modal transport system in twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad at an estimated cost Rs 632.68 crore. The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure approved the upgradation of railway infrastructure for introduction of multi-modal transport system (Phase-II) in Andhra Pradesh. The upgradation will be able to serve the habited areas of the rapidly expanding twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, said a release. While the total expenditure involved will be Rs 632.68 crore, two-thirds of the cost (Rs 421.79 crore) will be borne by Andhra Pradesh government. One-third of the cost will be funded from the gross budgetary support of Indian Railways. The project will be completed in three years during 12th Plan Period.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, March 2, 2012.

A road map for inclusive culture: A four-day national symposium on “Designing Roads for Disabled Pedestrians in India” concluded here on Sunday, with the participants unanimously adopting a ten-point charter of demands on road designing for disabled pedestrians. Organised jointly under the Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies (SDRS) and Social Action and Research Foundation (SARF) at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC), the symposium saw participants speak about the progress made by India in exploring possibilities for providing a barrier-free environment to the differently-abled. The major issues taken up in the ten-point charter include: mandatory compliance of the principle of “universal designing” and “accessibility”, involvement of disabled stakeholders in road designing; promotion of use and application of ICT [information and communications technology] related innovative assistive devices; putting up pedestrian controlled crossings, signage and tactile cones near or under the control button; instituting special refresher and orientation courses to architecture and civil engineers as well as transport and police officials in order to sensitise them towards the needs of inclusive designing and construction of pavements, side walks, zebra and kerb cuts for disabled commuters.
Source: The Hindu, New Delhi, March 5, 2012.

Plan to increase number of ASTC buses: Transport Minister Chandan Brahma today said that a plan has been chalked out to increase the fleet of buses of the Assam State Transport Corporation to one thousand within the next two years. The Minister said that in 2001, the ASTC had 70 buses in running condition and the total income was Rs 70 lakh. Gradually, the condition of the ASTC improved and during 2011-12, the total number of buses in running condition increased to 560 and the earning increased to Rs 4.10 crore. He said that as many as 1400 buses owned by private persons are also running under the ASTC operations. Brahma said that steps have been taken to improve rural connectivity with the introduction of new buses and the salaries of the employees of the ASTC increased to bring that at par with the salaries of the State Government employees. The Minister said that the Inter State Bus Terminus was set up in ASTC land and such bus terminuses are being set up in other parts of the State.
Source: The Assam Tribune, Guwahati, March 6, 2012

UT to make Sector 17 vehicle-free: The Chandigarh Administration has decided in principle to make Sector 17 a vehicle free zone. This, will be done in phases by the Administration. To work out the modalities and take the opinions of shopkeepers and relevant parties, the Administration today sought time to apprise the High Court of its final decision. The development took place during the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) arising of a suo motu notice taken by the High Court on a news item published by The Indian Express, which had highlighted the significance of eco-cabs and environment-friendly cabs, innovated by Fazilka resident Navdeep Asija. Senior standing counsel for the UT Administration Sanjay Kaushal informed the High Court of the development. A division bench headed by Justice Surya Kant, however, expressed strong disapproval over the bureaucratic attitude of the Administration in not making certain Sectors vehicle-free zones.
Source: The Indian Express, Chandigarh, March 8, 2012.

Funding may double for flagship scheme's phase-2: Even after 7 years, big chunk of JNNURM phase-1 projects still on paper; phase-2 may be announced in April The proposed phase-2 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) may see allocations double, though close to half of the phase-1 projects remain pending, especially in the case of housing for the poor. Phase-2 of JNNURM is likely to be announced in April, as the first phase of the seven-year-old programme draws to a close this month. The allocation for the first phase, launched in 2005, was Rs 100,000 crore. The Central government was to give half the money. JNNURM has been divided into infrastructure and transport-related services in 65 ‘mission towns’ (the nomenclature covers cities, too) and basic services, mainly housing, for the urban poor in 562 towns, including the first 65. The second phase will see the number of towns go up, officials said.
Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, March 13, 2012.

Why the import duty hike on cycles?: It is an irony that higher import duty for bicycles and bicycle components was disclosed in a Budget tabled in the shadow of India's rising fuel bill. While the automobile industry got away with no major body blow, cycling — it burns no fuel except human energy, is environment friendly and healthy — got hit. India is a big cycle market (around 17 million units) and a major producer of bicycles with one manufacturer — Hero Cycles — labelled the world's biggest. Thanks to protective barriers and cheap price points, for decades, India made working class bicycles. Simple in engineering, these models got indigenised. Light frames and gears remained distant. As the economy opened up, local manufacturers fiddled with cycle design. Prolonged focus on domestic market meant they trailed overseas brands in design and performance-DNA. Used to business backed by volumes, they were also risk-averse.
Source: Buisness Line, March 19, 2012.

State mulls posh buses to ease traffic in SoBo: To lure upscale commuters from SoBo and city suburbs to public transport, dedicated AC buses with easy chairs, laptop rests, coat hangers and mobile chargers on the cards With about 18 lakh vehicles wearing down Mumbai's pitted roads, suffocating snarl-ups are an everyday issue motorists -- those downtown or residing in posh suburbs -- must endure. Yet, they scarcely find the urge to abandon private vehicles in favour of creaky and filthy public transport for daily work commute. Now, the state government is thinking of luring the well-heeled with snazzy bus services. With dedicated routes and customised interiors -- such as reclining seats seen in planes, coat hanger hooks, laptop rests, overhead support grips at low height, mobile charging points, prominent route-fare-timing display charts, good upholstery, and functional air-conditioning -- government officials see the buses as a means to minimise use of cars, scooters and bikes, specially in commercial hubs across the city.
Source: Mid Day, Mumbai. March 24, 2012.

‘Single transport authority a must for Pune’: Formation of the Urban Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) for Pune is necessary to help solve traffic and transportation problems facing the city and the metropolitan region, coordinator for management development centre of the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT) Prashant Kakade said here on Wednesday. Speaking at a seminar organised by the Public Concern for Governance Trust on traffic problems and solutions, Kakade said that all traffic issues can be addressed through UMTA - a single authority which will have representations of the two municipal corporations and other stake holders, such as the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) and the traffic police. "The issue of shortage of funds for the traffic department could be addressed through UMTA," he said, adding that Mumbai already has such an authority comprising all stake holders.
Source: The Times of India, Pune, March 24, 2012.

Disabled-friendly BRTS to operate in Pimpri Chinchwad: The Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) on the Mumbai-Pune highway stretch in Pimpri Chinchwad will be disabled-friendly. Twelve of the bus stations will have ramp access with tactile blocks that will help both people on wheelchairs and the visually impaired. Each station will have a GPS-based voice-enabled passenger information system for the visually challenged, while 150 buses will have features such as level boarding/alighting at the stations and space for wheelchair docking. Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) official said that of the 500 buses bought by the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) for Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, 150 will have level boarding/ alighting. "All the four BRTS routes- Pune-Mumbai highway,Aundh-Ravet Road, Kalewadi phata-Dehu Alandi road and Wakad-Nashik phata- will have easily accessible features," he said. Each bus would cost about Rs 27 lakh.
Source: The Times of India, Pune, March 25, 2012.

Bicycle makers ask Govt to slap safeguard duty: The effect of the hike in customs duty on imported bicycles from 10 to 30 per cent in the Union budget has started becoming visible in the market. Domestic manufacturers have started getting more orders because the price difference between imported and Indian bicycles has now increased to around 20 per cent. Children’s bicycles have become cheaper by nearly Rs 100 compared to Chinese bicycles and even hi-end bicycles are now cheaper by more than Rs 200. Earlier, Indian models were not being preferred because of the price difference but now the demand is back. United Cycles Parts And Manufacturers Association (UCPMA) President Gurmeet Singh Kular said, “Small-scale units have now started getting more orders. This has given a boost to the bicycle industry which was collapsing.
Source: The Indian Express, Ludhiana, March 25, 2012.

Bamboo cycles to be produced in Manipur: In an effort to promote employment generation projects besides propagating a healthier and pollution-free environment, South Asia Bamboo Foundation (SABF) in collaboration with Manipur Cycle Club (MCC) is planning to produce ‘Bamboo Cycles’ for the first time in the country Kamesh Salam, founder and Executive Director of SABF told The Assam Tribune over phone from Guwahati that the success of such projects in African countries like Ghana and Zambia and other developing countries has made him to replicate such models in India. Bamboo grows in every continent except Europe and Antarctica, but is most abundant in Southern Asia. There are about 255 varieties of bamboo in the world. Out of India’s 57 varieties, 44 are found in the North- eastern States.
Source: The Assam Tribune, Imphal, March 26, 2012.

Street parking fee issue: Environmentalists happy, rest see red: The recent proposal to levy charges for street parking in colonies has divided residents and environmentalists. Reacting to the proposal by the Delhi high court-appointed Special Task Force, residents said the government should improve public transport first. Environmentalists, though, said the move would check the increase in the city's vehicle population. "The government should provide better public transport facility before thinking of introducing parking charges in residential colonies,'' said Pankaj Aggarwal of Delhi Joint Front. But many residents also admitted that the sharp increase in private vehicles had affected the quality of life in colonies. "There is no space to walk in our colony. In the absence of a good public transport system, people have no option but to use cars,'' said Vasant Kunj resident Amit Aggarwal. Welcoming the STF's decision, Environment and Pollution Control Authority's (EPCA) chairperson Bhure Lal said, "It is a good decision. This will help in bringing down the vehicle load in the city. In Singapore and Japan, people have to show adequate parking space before buying a car. The colony roads (in Delhi) are increasingly being used for parking."
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, April 27, 2012.

Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority mooted: A Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority would be constituted to integrate bus, train and boat services in the city, on the lines of the authority in Indore. This is because existing mass-transport systems are inadequate to meet the rising demand from commuters, neither are they people-friendly. Many places are not networked by public transport, despite having roads and navigable waterways in the vicinity. The city also needs a clear mobility plan which would work under a Traffic Regulation Committee, the Kochi Corporation's budget says. The agency would extend support for the speedy completion of the Kochi Metro Rail. The demand for more inter-district train services from Kochi to Kottayam, Alappuzha and Thrissur will be taken up with the Railways.
Source: The Hindu, Kochi, March 28, 2012.

Protect environment and stay fit, cycling: GVMC organised an exhibition-cum-sale of bicycles on Wednesday at Swarnabharati Indoor Stadium which was inaugurated by the Commissioner of GVMC B. Ramanjaneyulu. “The cycle club was inaugurated by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on March 25. Vehicle free zones will be observed both in the morning and evening, and interested persons can become a member of the club, use the cycle daily and return it. There are 72 wards in the city and we are planning for 25 cycles in each ward. The club is formed to promote healthy living and to protect the environment from pollution,” he explained. To protect against air and noise pollution thereby to promote healthy lifestyle, Greater Visakhapatnam Muncipal Corportation (GVMC) introduced cycle club and track for cyclists. Around 500 bicycles were donated by the donors on the occasion to encourage cycling among all age groups.
Source: The Hindu, VIsakhapatnam, March 29, 2012.

Bus owners may unite for survival in Karnataka: Stung by the branded services of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation and its other avatars in the districts, private bus operators are mulling over corporatising their operations by pooling their resources. Private operators run over 8,000 vehicles in Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Chitradurga, DK, Udupi, Bellary, Davanagere, Shimoga, Tumkur, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Mandya and parts of Northern Karnataka districts. “If we are not able to corporatise and operate under an umbrella organisation, I do not think we can survive for long. The KSRTC and its four sister organisations preside over 28,000 vehicles and all are less than three years old. This makes a perfect condition for the growth of the government or quasi government sector transport to flourish,” said Rajavarma Ballal, president of the State Private Bus Owners’ Federation.
Source: Daily News & Analysis, Bangalore, March 30, 2012.

Public transport system revamp mooted for Noida, Greater Noida: Public transport may soon get a shot in the arm with the Noida and Greater Noida authorities along with UP State Roadways Transport Corporation deciding on granting a new lease of life to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that has now been lying in limbo for over a year. In a meeting on Monday with the new roadways MD in Gautam Budh Nagar, Alok Kumar, the two authorities decided to bring in a new plan to improve the dismal intra-city public transport arrangements in the twin cities. The Noida Authority had devised an SPV comprising itself, the Greater Noida Authority and UPSRTC to change the dismal public transport system within Noida and Greater Noida. The SPV was to have officials from the three agencies to work on the upgrade, however, the project got delayed at that time due to the agitation of Greater Noida farmers over land acquisition.
Source: The Times of India, Greater Noida, April 4 2012.

No place for pedestrians, cyclists in Indian road plans: Experts: Though 60-80% of traffic in Indian cities is non-motorised, planners have not kept them in mind while laying out roads, resulting in such road users accounting for more than 60% of fatalities in accidents, experts said. Geetam Tiwari, a researcher from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi, said at a workshop organised by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways: "The non-motorised road users, including pedestrians and bicycle riders constitute more than 60% casualties in road accidents." "Out of these, 52% are pedestrians, according to latest Delhi Police data," Tiwari added. The main reasons for the statistics was due to lack of proper infrastructure for such road users and the apathy of motorists, the experts said. According to Nishi Mittal of Central Road Research Institute(CRRI), "As much as 40% of the capital's roads don't have footpaths for the pedestrians."
Source: Daily News & Analysis, New Delhi, April 5, 2012.

Experts bat for strong public transport in Mumbai: The need of the hour is to encourage and strengthen the public transport so that there are few private vehicles in the city. A lack of reliable public transport is forcing citizens to buy vehicles of their own for faster commute. The latest transport statistics has revealed that there are about 20 lakh vehicles in Mumbai now. This is not just leading to more traffic chaos on the city’s roads, but also pollution. “If there is a strong and reliable public transport, citizens would not take out their vehicles,’’ a senior transport official said. To improve the bus service, the Bus Rapid Transit System was worked out, but it never took shape.Separate lanes for BEST buses were proposed way back in 2006, but they are still under study and now there is a fight who will implement them. The BEST went ahead and bought buses for these lanes, which are now run in mixed traffic.
Source: Daily News & Analysis, Mumbai, April 6, 2012.

Bangalore, Chennai public bus fleets most efficient: The southern cities of Chennai and Bangalore have better and efficient bus fleets compared to other big cities in India. A government report released for 2010-11 said stat-owned buses plying in the two southern cities had higher vehicle productivity - kilometers covered per bus per day - and had a better track record than the other metropolitan cities. The report on the performance of state road transport undertakings (SRTUs) released by the road transport and highways ministry said that while each DTC bus in Delhi travelled 138 km a day, in Chennai, Metropolitan Transport Corporation (TC) buses travelled 278 km. Bangalore, which ranks second, had a vehicle productivity of 205 km per day and Mumbai's BEST undertaking came third with 154 km per day. "Maximum kilometers covered by buses shows the efficiency of an SRTU. In fact, the focus of every city bus system should be to improve vehicle productivity than just increasing the number of buses.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, April 7, 2012.

Soon, you will have to pay for parking in CBD: The city council is set to fast-track new rules to see that parking in the central business district will no longer be free. It recently approved the BBMP’s policy to tackle parking problems plaguing the city. Although the recommendations were made by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), the final policy was watered down by the BBMP which thought the original proposals were not suitable for the city. It also feared that the proposals may inconvenience people. Nevertheless, it was a start, said a Palike official. “It was decided that parking fee will be imposed only in commercial areas and not in residential areas and parking space will be uniform across the city,” said the official. BBMP will ensure that a suitable portion of the designated parking area is reserved for physically handicapped persons. Area will also be given for bicycle parking, according to the draft policy.
Source: Daily News & Analysis, Bangalore, April 12, 2012.

State urged to allot more funds for public buses in Pune: After the Pune Municipal Corporation budget for 2012-13 failed to made concrete announcements for strengthening the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML), Pedestrians First, an NGO, has demanded intervention of the government to allot more funds for PMPML and non-motorised transport in the city. Prashant Inamdar, convener of Pedestrians First has written a letter to newly elected Rajya Sabha MP Vandana Chavan and TC Benjamin, principal secretary to the state government’s urban development department seeking their intervention for strengthening the non-motorised transport and public transport in the city. Inamdar said, “Traffic is the most serious problem in the city. Last year more than 2.2 lakh vehicles were added to the city roads. This problem can be solved by strengthening the public transport and non-motorised transport. However, both these modes of transports are neglected.
Source: Daily News & Analysis, Pune, April 13, 2012.

Put a cap on number of vehicles: Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner (traffic) with Delhi Police, agrees that the city should do more for pedestrians. In an interview with Vishal Kant, he also suggests putting a cap on the number of cars sold in Delhi. What are major reasons for the high number of pedestrian deaths in the city? The lack of footpaths, foot overbridges and subways are some of the obvious reasons for the high number of fatal accidents. Since the footpaths are encroached by hawkers and car owners for parking, the pedestrians are forced to walk on the carriageway. However, most of the fatal accidents are recorded while pedestrians are crossing a road. What is the role of Delhi Police in checking encroachment of footpaths? Infrastructure becomes a big deterrent in towing away vehicles parked in a non-parking zone. Lakhs of vehicles in the city are parked on the streets. Even if people want to park their vehicle at a public parking, they can't do it because such facilities are not available in enough numbers.
Source: Deccan Herald, New Delhi, April 14, 2012.

City police chief seeks to maintain encroachment-free footpaths: The ongoing encroachment drive by Nagpur Municipal Corporation and city police could mean a cleaner footpath, easier traffic flow and lesser accidents. City police chief Ankush Dhanvijay is preparing an elaborate plan to ensure that the encroachers are kept at bay even after the drive is over. The traffic wing of city police is ready with a parking plan along footpaths and a drive to encourage pedestrians to follow rules. More than 83 pedestrians have lost their life so far this year in road accidents. "We will now put up cautionary boards approved by NMC to ensure that pedestrians either walk on footpaths or stick to the right," said Dhanvijay. He added that footpaths would also have precautionary boards warning people of wrong parking. Dhanvijay said that he has urged NMC to repair the footpaths and repeat such surprise drives.
Source: The Times of India, Nagpur, April 15 2012.

Vehicle-free Sunday gets mixed response: Spirits of some citizens out to enjoy their Sunday with a ride were dampened when they reached police barricade near Law Garden, CG Road or Kankaria Lake. Traffic cops told them to get down and walk to their destination. This was the common scene on Sunday evening around the roads converted into no-vehicle zones. CG Road, Law Garden and Kankaria Lake - were the three vehicle-free zones as identified by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as highly congested areas on Sundays. The vehicular entry at these places will be restricted on all Sundays between 4 pm and 11 pm henceforth. "We had come to CG Road and were caught unawares. It might be a good initiative but we did not know about it and it robbed the evening of the fun. The traffic police did not guide us about where to park as we went late in the evening and the stretch near Swastik Crossroads was choc-a-block with parked four-wheelers," said Manan Desai, a resident of Satellite.
Source: The Times of India, Ahmedabad, April 16 2012.

Frame budget norms for pedestrians' needs: Pune: For footpaths to become walkable, pedestrians' issues should be well understood, Parisar, the city-based NGO working for sustainable urban transport has said. The Urban Development Department (UDD) had directed Pune Municipal Corporation on April 8 to make footpaths walkable within a month. Parisar's letter to state additional chief secretary T C Benjamin wants the UDD to issue guidelines to civic bodies to allocate adequate budget for improving footpaths, cycle tracks, and junctions. "These improvements cannot be undertaken unless the city allocates adequate budget for maintenance, design, surveys, capacity building/training and public awareness campaigns. Civic bodies are very reluctant to allocate resources for these purposes and prefer to allocate funds for infrastructure projects. We hope the UDD will issue some guidelines," the letter said.
Source: The Times of India. Pune, April 17 2012.

Get common mobility card, travel all over India: Soon passengers from Tamil Nadu can travel in an auto rickshaw or a bus in Rajasthan or any part of the country with the help of a cash card as the urban development ministry is all set to launch national common mobility card (NCMC), which will act as a cashless means of travel through a city or across the country as well. To promote the NCMC scheme, officials of urban development held discussions with state officials of various departments at MTC headquarters in Chennai on Tuesday. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, in which officials from transport, railways, corporation and metro rail participated, S.K. Lohia, joint secretary (urban development ministry), said the card would be a single point of transaction, valid in state buses, metro and even for parking. “This is to provide seamless connectivity across different modes in a city or within state by integrating all modes of transport.
Source: Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, April 18, 2012.

HC Special Task Force for levying charges on parking in colonies: In a bid to discourage people from buying more cars in the city, the Special Task Force (STF) formed by the Delhi High Court has asked local bodies to look into levying parking charges for on-street parking within residential colonies. In a meeting held on Wednesday, the MCD officials were directed to explore the feasibility of levying such charges, said MCD officials. The Special Task Force, headed by Chief Secretary P K Tripathi, was constituted on the orders of the High Court to look into traffic issues. It had also proposed revising parking rates in the city during the last meeting held in February. “The Chief Secretary has asked us to explore the feasibility of levying parking charges on cars that are parked on the roadside by residents. Earlier, the STF had proposed collecting a one-time parking charge, to be paid by people while purchasing a car.
Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi, April 26, 2012.

Mumbai to soon get unified transport card: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) has taken a baby step towards a “More Mumbai” mobility card to pay fares for various modes of transport. Commuters in Mumbai and the Metropolitan region may soon be able to use the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) to pay Metro and Mono Railway, suburban railway, bus, auto- rickshaw and taxi fares, apart from parking charges and toll. Launched by the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, the unified ticketing solutions seek to avoid repeated inconvenience of small cash transactions. “The effort is to ultimately rid the commuter of the daily piecemeal cash transactions,” said Dilip Kawathkar, Joint Project Director, (PR), MMRDA, adding that this would allow easy access to various modes of transport.
Source: Daily News & Analysis, Mumbai, April 22, 2012.

Surge in number of vehicles leads to traffic gridlock: The steady rise in vehicle population and the inability of city roads to handle the ever increasing traffic are making life hard for commuters. According to data available with the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD), 8,871 new vehicles were registered in the city in the first three months this year, a 22 per cent increase from last year. In this period last year, 7,283 new vehicles were registered. Ernakulam Regional Transport Officer (RTO) T J Thomas said increasing number of vehicles and poor infrastructure was a common phenomenon in cities like Kochi. The only solution will be to encourage people to use the public transport system. "Currently we don't have any provision to control registration of new vehicles as some foreign countries have. Traffic congestion can be reduced only if the city has adequate parking space," Thomas said. Over the last five years, 1.29 lakh new vehicles were registered in the city alone. According to MVD data, every year a minimum of 25,000 new vehicles are registered in the city.
Source: The Times of India, Kochi, April 26, 2012.

Use distribution points to promote cycling: Commissioner: Municipal Commissioner G. Ravi Babu peddled a bicycle along with members of walkers association, students and civic officials from Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation Stadium to Benz Circle and back, as part of a campaign to promote cycling among general public and to spread awareness on the vehicular pollution here on Friday. Speaking to media persons, Mr. Babu said that the corporation had earmarked Friday as cycling day in a week and felt happy that the message was reaching out to many citizens. “We have set up cycle distribution points in the city where you can get a cycle by producing your identity card. You can use a cycle for an hour and return it back,” he added. The Commissioner said that the high school managements were asked to form groups of students and allot a day in a week for them to use bicycles. “In this way we can make sure of students using cycles for a day in a week which will help them tone up physically and also reduce toxic pollution,” he pointed out.
Source: The Hindu, Vijaywada, April 28, 2012.

Finally, 36 buses hit Gurgaon roads: The intra-city bus service was launched on Saturday and in the first phase, 36 buses will ply in double shifts on the city roads on four routes. Buses were flagged off by the Haryana state transport director general Arun Kumar who said that the bus service in Gurgaon was a long-standing demand of the residents here. The DG said the government has decided to provide a total of 100 buses for the city bus service in Gurgaon. The rest will be provided in a phased manner within the next six months. Out of these, 15 buses are air conditioned, he added. These buses will run on four routes and the passengers will get a bus in approximately every ten minutes. 'When we get all 100 buses, we will start this service on 11 identified routes," Arun Kumar said adding that the aim is to cater to the needs of majority of the population here so that they get benefit of internal transport.
Source: The Times of India, Gurgaon, May 13, 2012.

Non Motorized Zone in Panaji: Panaji is going to witness a unique citizen's initiative called NoMoZo ( Non Motorized Zone), which will make its debut on Sunday between 9am to 12pm on a stretch of road between Kala Academy and 2 Signal Training Centre. Ideated by 'Aamchi Panaji' and Corporation of the City of Panaji, NoMoZo will allow people to move freely, decrease vehicular congestion, lower pollution caused by emissions, improve health and sustain urban mobility. The Sunday Evening Quiz Club will have a quiz session, Book Worm Children's Library will conduct a treasure hunt, book reading session and an interesting art session with Harshada Kerkar. All these activities have been planned on the side lanes parallel to the main thoroughfare which will be exclusively used by pedestrians, cyclists and rollerskaters. To experience a car free street, simply walk or cycle to the Kala Academy Junction on DB Marg. For residents or visitors from the outskirts of the city or outside, you could park at the Parade Grounds, Kala Academy parking lot or the Betim Ferry Point.
Source: The Times of India, Panaji, May 13, 2012.

New permits to be issued soon for autorickshaws: Months after the Supreme Court relaxed the cap on the number of autorickshaws plying on Delhi's roads, the transport department has finalized the policy for the 45,000 new permits. The policy will allow only those with a valid driver's license and a PSV (public service vehicle) badge to apply for the permit. Interestingly, more than half the city's autorickshaw drivers don't have the badge. The department will come out with a public notice this month. "The public notice should come out by next week. Then we will start the process of issuing the permits, said a senior government official. The insistence on the PSV badge is to ensure that only trained and genuine applicants get the permit, said the official. "A PSV badge means that the driver has undergone training from a proper driving school. These badges are verified by the police to make sure that the owners don't have a criminal background," added the source.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, May 17, 2012.

Public transport, the way forward: Transport experts feel that with at least 50% of country’s population expected to reside in urban areas by 2030, the added pressure on transport, with rise in use of private vehicles, will be tremendous. They suggest that the need of the hour is to increase and improve public transport, as trends in the country indicate that there is a decline in the use of public and non-motorised transport and an increase in the use of private vehicles. The speakers at a seminar on doubling public transport share by 2025, organised by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) pointed out that public transport will decrease the consumption of energy and fatalities from accidents by at least 15%. However, in order to achieve this, there has to be drastic changes in the way public transport operates in the country. Regarding the city’s bus services, Ashwin Mahesh, advisor to BMTC and member ABIDe said both Big 10 services (direction oriented services) and proper branding of buses were the initiatives that helped citizens understand the bus services in the city.
Source: Daily News & Analysis, Bangalore, May 25, 2012.

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In Court

Court all for ecocabs in Ludhiana: With city as rising pollution levels and clogged roads, the Punjab and Haryana high courta's recommendation to study the possibility of having ecocabs in Ludhiana appears to be godsend. The ecocabs, or rickshaws on call, are the pride of Fazilka, where these vehicles have revolutionized the townas commuting habits. Keeping that in mind, the HC on Friday asked Graduate Welfare Association Fazilka (GWAF), which had evolved this specialized rickshaw, to conduct a study in Ludhiana for introducing ecocabs. A division bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Ajay Tewari asked the secretary of the association, Navdeep Kumar Asija, to conduct a study and recommend the actions required to improve the situation. HC had taken suo motu cognizance on introduction of ecocabs in the region following media reports published about the concept in Fazilka.
Source: The Times of India, Ludhiana, March 3, 2012.

Rickshaw pullers find a friend in SC: Delhi's rickshaw pullers found an ally in the Supreme Court on Monday with the court slamming the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Delhi government for seeking to undo a Delhi high court order removing a cap on number of rickshaws. Batting for rickshaw pullers it described as "weak and meek", the court also quashed the civic body's bid to restore its power to scrap rickshaws plying without licences, asking MCD to take on someone its own size. "Are you prepared to scrap cars; Impound those involved in drunken driving or even remove them from roads, say for a period of 10 years?" the SC asked MCD. The apex court has set the stage for movement of pedal-powered tri-cycle rickshaws in most parts of the city as the civic body is now armed only with powers to impose a fine of Rs 5 in areas outside permitted zones, while it will not be able to use more harsh measures.
Source: Times of India, New Delhi, April 3 2012.

HC questions PCB over closure of 18 air-testing stations: Environmentalist Subash Dutta today brought to the notice of the Calcutta High Court that the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) closed down 18 air testing stations out of 20. These testing stations recorded the pollution level in the air but were closed down without any concrete reason, he submitted in the court. Out of the 20 stations, only two automatic testing stations — one near Victoria Memorial Hall and other at Rabindra Bharati University — have been functioning, Duttta said. The number of patients suffering from lung disease is highest in Kolkata in comparison to other cities due to high air pollution level Dutta alleged that the functioning of WBPCB has deteriorated in the last one year under the new government. Dutta suggested that the state government impose entry tax on vehicles and that check post be set up on national highways and state highways for collecting the same.
Source: The Indian Express, Kolkata, April 6 2012.

Cycle rickshaws: SC verdict gets mixed response: The city has been fighting a losing battle against private vehicles but it had chosen to clamp down on the most eco-friendly mode of transport - cycle rickshaws - to prevent congestion. However, tri-cycles finally got some respite on Monday after the Supreme Court upheld their right to ply in the city without facing harassment. The judgment has been welcomed by many who felt that it addressed two necessary issues - providing clean public transport and protecting human rights of the migrant population. But a certain segment says that absence of regulations would not only compound congestion on roads but also worsen Delhi's population problem. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi had placed a cap of 99,000 on the number of rickshaws in the city, colour coding them zone wise for easy identification.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, April 9 2012.

Remove car parking at SN, Khan Market: SC to NDMC: Blaming the civic agency for making a “monster” of the Capital’s popular shopping stops — Sarojini Nagar and Khan Market, the Supreme Court on Monday suggested removal of car parking from the shopping zones as a solution to ease congestion. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) — the agency responsible for upkeep of the two market complexes came in for strict scrutiny before the Supreme Court bench of Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhyay who questioned the agency for the reason behind the deteriorated state of these shopping zones. “Who has created the monster in Sarojini Nagar and Khan Market,” the bench asked senior advocate Rakesh K Khanna who appeared for NDMC. The agency had filed an affidavit in a matter relating to framing of scheme with regard to vendors in the Capital.
Source: The Pioneer, New Delhi, April 10, 2012.

July 31 HC stinker to ban old autos: Jharkhand High Court has asked the state government to ensure that ageing auto-rickshaws and commercial vehicles be banned from the roads of Ranchi that is reeling under severe air pollution. A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh, while hearing a PIL filed by Rajneesh Mishra for curbing pollution levels in the capital, directed the government to crack down on autos that were more than 10 years old and buses, trucks, vans and taxis, more than 15 years old. The court said that this measure, part of several recommendations made by an experts’ committee, were to be implemented by July 31. The nine-member committee, set up at the intervention of the court, has noted that 24-hour readings of average respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) in various parts of the capital ranged between 150 and 283 units which was way above permissible limits of 100 RSPM.
Source: The Telegraph, Ranchi, May 16, 2012.

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South Asian countries

China combats air pollution with tough monitoring rules: State media acknowledge role of online environmental activists in forcing government to act on poor air quality in cities. Chinese authorities have set tougher rules to combat air pollution by ordering all major cities to monitor tiny particles that do serious damage to health. One of China's leading environmental activists, Ma Jun, greeted the change as a major step forward. Surprisingly, given China's strict control of the internet, state media have acknowledged the change is partly in response to online environmental campaigners. The national air quality rules were agreed at an executive meeting of the state council presided over by the premier, Wen Jiabao, on 1 March, a statement on its website said. They order stricter air pollution monitoring standards this year in the mega-cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Tianjin, 27 provincial capitals, and three key industrial belts: the Yangtze and Pearl river deltas, and Beijing's hinterland.
Source: The Guardian, Beijing, March 1 2012.

Air standards going national by 2016: The revised air quality standard that includes an index of PM2.5 will be implemented throughout the country by January 1, 2016, said an environment protection official on Friday. "The new standard will be extended to all cities at prefecture level or above in 2015, and January 1, 2016 is the deadline for its implementation throughout the nation," said Wu Xiaoqing, vice minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Wu's words came after the State Council, or China's Cabinet, on Wednesday passed revised air quality standards that include indices for ozone and PM2.5, fine particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in diameter. The government decided to monitor PM2.5 in four municipalities, 27 provincial capitals, as well as three key regions -- east China's Yangtze River Delta, south China's Pearl River Delta, and the northern Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area -- this year.
Source: China Daily, March 3, 2012

Shanghai to tighten emission standard to curb pollution: Shanghai is planning to implement a harsher vehicle emission regulation starting next year in an effort to curb the city's air pollution, a senior environmental official said Sunday. The move is part of a collection of air control measures rolled out by the Shanghai Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau to improve air quality and cut PM2.5 -- fine particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in diameter, said Zhang Quan, director of the bureau. Zhang, a deputy of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, said the new standard is equivalent to the Euro 5 emission standard applied to passenger and light vehicles in EU member countries. He said other regulations include speeding up the elimination of old vehicles and strengthening overhaul and maintenance on vehicles in use. Shanghai's decision for a new emission standard came shortly after Beijing ushered in a similar regulation last month.
Source: People’s Daily Online, Beijing, March 5, 2012

City issues first PM2.5 air-quality warning: Shanghai’s air quality briefly hit highly polluted levels yesterday due to haze in the middle and downstream sections of the Yangtze River. For the first time, the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center issued an air-quality warning that included the new PM2.5 measurement. From Saturday night the PM2.5 figure had grown to three times the nation's new standard by 10am yesterday. According to the two monitoring sites that began to release the data last Thursday, PM2.5 particles measured over 230 micrograms per cubic meter at 10am in Putuo District and almost 220 at 10am at Zhangjiang in the Pudong New Area. The maximum PM2.5 allowed under China's new standard is 75 micrograms per cubic meter. However, the PM2.5 measurement dropped quickly at both sites after 10am and returned to below the standard about 2pm.
Source: Shanghai Daily.com, Shanghai, March 12 2012.

Tianjin to release PM2.5 data in April: Authorities in North China's port city of Tianjin on Monday said they will start including the stricter PM2.5 index in air quality readings. Data released from the city's four air quality monitoring stations will include PM2.5, an air quality index that accounts for particles of 2.5 microns or less in diameter, starting next month, the city's environmental protection bureau said in a statement. The number of monitoring stations is expected to be increased to 13 by the end of the year and 27 by next February, according to the statement. To make the air cleaner, the bureau said it will raise environmental thresholds for new enterprises, order more boilers to be powered by gas instead of coal and restrict the number of cars on the city's roads. The State Council, or China's cabinet, passed a new air quality standard that included an index for PM2.5 on February 29.
Source: China Daily.com, Tianjin, March 12, 2012.

Shanghai plans for less car use: Shanghai will encourage residents to use their cars less, and it will start monitoring power consumption at public venues as the city strives to be greener this year. "Shanghai aims to cut emission per unit of gross domestic product by 3.2 percent this year, compared with a cut of 3.6 percent in 2011," Shanghai Vice Mayor Yang Xiong said yesterday. "Challenges remain as industrial activities are seen to rebound this year. All government bodies need to be motivated to meet the energy-saving targets." The city will continue with its car plate auctions to control the increase of private cars, and also study the issue of imposing different parking fees this year, government officials said. The city also aims to have more than 600 kilometers of subway lines by the end of 2015 and to boost the use of public transport in downtown areas to more than 50 percent.
Source: Shanghai Daily.com, Shanghai, March 13, 2012.

Air pollution could become China's biggest health threat, expert warns: Leading respiratory disease specialist warns of consequences if government fails to monitor and publicise the dangers of smog. Air pollution will become the biggest health threat in China unless the government takes greater steps to monitor and publicise the dangers of smog, the country's leading respiratory disease specialist warned this week. Lung cancer and cardiovascular illnesses are already rising and could get worse in the future because of factory emissions, vehicle exhausts and cigarette smoke, Zhong Nanshan, the president of the China Medical Association, told the Guardian. The outspoken doctor – who won nationwide respect for revealing the cover-up of the Sars epidemic in 2002 – said the authorities are starting to learn the lessons of past health crises by being more transparent about the risks posed by contaminated air.
Source: The Guardian, March 16, 2012.

Colombo eyes Delhi’s green transport: Delhi's transport system will now be replicated by other major cities. Sri Lankan minister for petroluem and oil Sushil Premajayantha said that they were using Delhi as a model to replicate the CNG-transport system in Colombo and hoped to start work on the same in coming months. The minister made the announcement at the second Asia Energy Summit held in Colombo last week. The summit organized by Independent Power Producers Association of India in Colombo discussed co-operation for energy security, stability and sustainability in the region. Premjayantha said he that he visited the Indian capital recently and felt a vast difference in air quality as compared to several years ago. "We want to follow Delhi's example by introducing CNG for the local transport system. The emission rate in Colombo is growing and tackling air pollution is a priority ," he said.
Source: The Times of India, Colombo, March 19, 2012.

Bangla economy runs out of gas: Bangladesh's industry is driven by unnaturally cheap gas. But gas output has not increased, with exploration proving unattractive at current prices. Najmul is unhappy. The lanky 24-year-old driver of a Toyota Corolla taxi in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, is finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet in the face of unrelenting price rise. Najmul is not so troubled by the food inflation, which has lately shown signs of subsiding, thanks to a bumper busy season crop. His greatest worry is the rising price of CNG (compressed natural gas), the most popular auto-fuel of the city, used rather indiscriminately by private as well as commercial vehicles. Gas (and water) has been the epicentre of nationalist politics in Bangladesh, particularly when global energy prices zoomed. Bangladesh thought it could build an export economy, like China, riding on cheap domestic gas, which now meets over two-thirds of its primary energy needs.
Source: Business Line, March 26, 2012.

Govt vehicles contribute to air pollution: Twenty nine percent of diesel vehicles and 23 percent of petrol vehicles in government institutions have failed the vehicle emission test, a spokesperson for the Environment Ministry told the Daily News yesterday. She observed that under the direction of Environment Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, a special programme has been implemented to conduct the vehicle emission test for the vehicles in government institutions. She said that accordingly 148 vehicles of the Ministries of Ports and Highway, Culture and Arts Affairs, Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities, National Heritages, Economic Development, Transport, National Physical Planning Department and Road Development Authority had been checked for emission levels during the past few months. She said that checked vehicles included 69 diesel and 79 petrol vehicles.
Source: Daily News, Colombo, March 28, 2012.

CNG body rejects idea of conversion to LPG: Lahore: The representative body of the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) sector has rejected the government’s policy to shift towards Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).“Billions of rupees worth of investment in the CNG sector made over the past ten years would go waste,” Ghiyas Abduallah Piracha, chairman All Pakistan CNG Association said talking to The News. Piracha also rejected the government’s offer that the oil marketing companies or the LPG marketing companies would install LPG dispensers at the CNG filling stations on their own cost. The LPG Policy 2011 allows installing LPG dispensers at the existing CNG stations to gradually replace the CNG with LPG as an alternative fuel for vehicles. “The CNG station owners would (as per policy) have to transfer the ownership of the station where the marketing company would install LPG dispensers,” he said.
Source: The News, Lahore, March 28, 2012.

Sri Lanka raises automobile import taxes: Sri Lanka has slapped new taxes of as much as 100 percent of import value on some imported cars, but kept taxes on hybrid cars lower, in a move which can reduce state revenues from automobiles this year. Sri Lanka's finance ministry in a notice on its website said total taxes on imported hybrid cars has been raised to between 60 to 125 percent from the current 51 to 100 percent based on engine size. Taxes on petrol-driven cars have been raised from the current 120 to 189 percent of value to 189 to 275 percent. Taxes on diesel cars have been raised from the current 180 to 191 percent to 250 to 350 percent. Taxes on petrol vans have been raised from the current 103 to 172 percent to 125 percent to 200 percent. Taxes on diesel vans have been raised from the current 112 to 291 percent to 125 percent to 350 percent.
Source: Lanka Business Online, March 31, 2012.

Is pollution highest in Pakistan? The biggest causes are the operations of fossil fuel-burning power plants and automobiles that combust fuel. Combined these two sources are responsible for about 90% of all air pollution. Most serious issue of air pollution in Pakistan is the presence of excessive suspended particulates matter (SPM). The major sources of SPM are vehicles, industry, burning of solid waste, bricks kilns and natural dust. Everyday each person inhales 20,000 liters of air. Every breath, we risk hailing dangerous chemicals that have found their way into the air. One of the important factors for producing pollution is increasing rate of urbanization. Due to people migration to cities, growth of infrastructure in cities together with growth in road transport that ultimately cause pollution in the air. Transportation vehicles are also important agents which contribute in air pollution.
Source: Pakistan Observer, April 1 2012.

'Lifespan' one more year: Dhaka: Most of the nearly 16,000 CNG-run auto-rickshaws operating in the capital, Dhaka will be past their use-by date next year. Then, those out of condition will be 'destroyed' and the owners would have to find new carriers. Bangladesh Road Transportation Authority (BRTA) chairman Ayubur Rahman Khan said fresh licence will not be given once the current auto-rickshaws go out of service. "There will be the opportunity for replacement if the owners contact with the necessary papers," said Khan. The four-stroke green-colored three-wheelers substituted the yellow two-stroke auto-rickshaws, popularly known as Baby Taxi, in 2002 with its 'economic lifespan' fixed at nine years. The replacement came in to protect the capital from severe air pollution. Considering the 'economic life' of the engine, the licence for CNG-driven auto-rickshaws was given for nine years, but it was extended by two more years following demand owners and drivers.
Source: Bdnews24.com, Dhaka, April 6, 2012.

Air Pollution in China: Government Air Quality Figures Questioned: Academics and experts in the country are now arguing over the accuracy and honesty of the government's methods for measuring small particulate matter, which is particularly harmful. Until last week China had only measured particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers, or relatively large carbon particles in the air. In late February, the Chinese government publicized new plans to begin measurements for measuring particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers, four times smaller than what it measures now, as well as extending the monitoring of ozone levels. Particulate matter at 2.5 micrometers has the ability to pass through cell walls in the lungs. In the past the Chinese government has stated that some cities have actually seen improvements in measurable sulfur dioxide and larger particulate concentrations.
Source: International Business Times, April 6, 2012.

Blue sky project’ to provide clean air for next generation: The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) under the guidance and supervision of the Environment Ministry is to launch a new integrated air quality management programme for Sri Lanka. Every citizen is entitled to clean air and it is vital that we manage air quality to fulfil this objective. We will establish air quality monitoring stations to measure ambient air quality under the ‘Blue Sky 2020’ project. CEA chairman Charitha Herath spoke to the Daily News on this landmark initiative and the National Green Awards to be held this year. This new project titled ‘Blue Sky 2020’ will ensure clean air for next generation. The CEA was established in 1981 under the provision of the National Environmental Act No: 47 of 1980 as a regulatory body dealing mainly with environmental management. Air is one of the greatest natural resources that belong to all of us.
Source: Daily News; April 7, 2012.

Smoke-emitting vehicles aggravate air pollution in Karachi: Two-stroke rickshaws seen as main culprit. The sight of smoke-emitting vehicles have become common on the roads of Karachi as cabs and auto rickshaws even private cars can be seen running on the roads with utter disregard of the environment causing immense health issues for the citizens. “We are poor people. We barely earn enough to feed our children then how can you expect us to cover such issues with such little income”, said an auto rickshaw owner Abdul Qadir. Despite the ban on two-stroke rickshaws, several such vehicles can be seen operating without a fuss, emitting fatal smoke while the authorities seem oblivious regarding the issue. The two-stroke rickshaws are considered highly responsible for emitting high-levels of hydrocarbon, which was destructive for the environment.
Source: Daily Times, Karachi, April 9, 2012.

Govt promoting LPG to counter petrol prices, gas shortage: The PPP government has braved itself to meet the dual challenge of growing cost of fuel and looming energy crisis through promotion of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which is not only cheap as compared to petrol but is also a viable substitute for compressed natural gas (CNG), said Federal Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Dr Asim Hussain, late Saturday evening. Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the country’s first autologous (auto-gas) LPG station, the minister said the strategy would also reduce the exceptionally high reliance of the domestic, industrial and transport as well as power generation sectors on the fast diminishing natural gas resources of the country. He said a study conducted by the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) has established that LPG would cost consumers Rs 73 per litre as compared to Rs 103 for petrol and Rs 70 CNG (per kg).
Source: Daily Times; April 9, 2012.

Beijing's limit on car licenses to stay: Beijing will limit car usage based on license plates a long-term policy in order to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads and address air pollution, the government said. In 2011, the capital began to limit car usage through a system based on license plate numbers that keeps one-fifth of potential vehicles from being used downtown on weekdays. According to an announcement released by the municipal government of Beijing on Tuesday, the city has set a target of a year-on-year decrease of 2 percent in the density of major pollutants this year. The prolonged application of the limit of car usage is a means to help achieve the goal, according to the announcement. Liu Xiaoming, director general of Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport, said in a radio program on Wednesday that the city will continue efforts to limit car usage and develop a public transportation system to tackle traffic gridlock. Beijing announced a package of measures to tackle worsening traffic congestion at the end of 2010.
Source: China Daily, May 2, 2012.

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Announcements

  • Air pollution is the fifth largest killer and seventh biggest illness burden in India as estimated by the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report. The speed at which urban air pollution is growing across our cities is alarming. Severe particulate pollution and newer pollutants like nitrogen oxides, ozone and air toxics are worsening the public health challenge. Vehicles are a special challenge as these are the fastest growing sources of air pollution. Vehicles emit close to our breathing zone and contribute significantly to human exposure.

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