THE Union ministry of urban development has evolved a system for evaluating urban transportation services in cities across India.
All cities covered by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission have been advised to benchmark their level of services (los) for various parameters specified by the ministry. The parameters on which cities would be graded include public transportation system, pedestrian facilities, cycle lanes and even air pollution (see box). The exercise aims to generate information that will be useful in making urban transportation systems effective. The grading will be on a scale of one to four. A city that has very good services will score one and one that has poor services will score four.
Ashok R Datar, chairman of the non-profit, Mumbai Environmental Social Network, said the ministry has made a sensible beginning about establishing benchmarks “but they may be inadequate”. For example, a criterion for benchmarking availability of parking space includes bringing 50 per cent on-street parking under a paid parking system.
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.