Precaution against pollution, energy guzzling and congestion called for
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Bhubaneswar, 20 August
Bhubaneswar needs strong preventive and precautionary action to stave off looming pollution, energy guzzling and congestion, according to a analysis by Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). The state capital reflects the unique trend in emerging cities of India. Despite the majority still walking, cycling or using public transport, there is rapid shift towards personal vehicles, it observed.
The focus, it said, should be on the 60 per cent of the daily travel trips that are still on foot, cycles, cycle rickshaws, buses and auto rickshaws, and not towards car centric infrastructure ~ cars meet just 6 per cent of the travel demand.
In a City Dialogue organised here, the CSE laid bare the challenge of addressing perils of motorisation in a planned city like Bhubaneswar. Vehicle ownership and motorisation rate has begun to increase and with that the pollution levels.
Ms Anumita Roychowdhury, head of clean air and sustainable transportation programme at CSE said: “Bhubaneswar has the chance to prevent worsening of air pollution and congestion nightmare if it can build on its inherent advantage of compact urban design, high share of walking, cycling and public transport usage and prevent automobile dependence. This is an opportunity to leapfrog to sustainable mobility paradigm.”
The ‘City Dialogue on Air Quality and Transportation Challenge: An Agenda for Action’, organised jointly by CSE and the Bhubaneswar Development Authority, brought together city transport planners, experts and civil society to discuss the emerging challenges and second generation solutions in Bhubaneswar. For a long time, Bhubaneswar did not have to worry about air pollution. But over the years, its annual average air quality trends have now started showing deterioration. Out of 9 cities monitored in Odisha, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Balasore have high levels of PM10 ~ tiny particles that go deep inside the lungs. Berhampur, Rayagada, and Sambalpur meet the standard and have moderate levels. Angul, Rourkela and Talcher have critical levels. While the level of particulate matter is rising, nitrogen oxide levels are also showing increase. Angul, Cuttack and Talcher have moderate NO2 levels. All cities are within the NO2 standard, however almost all cities show increasing NO2 trends. Out of 16 locations in Odisha, the PM10 levels are critical in several locations in Talcher, Rourkela, Bhubaneswar, and Angul; in 12 locations the levels have exceeded the standard.
The CSE also noted that there is a increased focus on flyovers and less crossings in several intersections as a site specific traffic mitigation measure. As experience from other cities show flyovers and road widening only induce more traffic and relocate congestion without addressing the root cause.
In Bhubaneswar, new registration of cars and two-wheelers every year creates demand for additional land for parking equal to 30 football fields, it observed.
Suggestions like scaling up the bus transport system, integrate bus, cycling, walking and para-transit systems, build pedestrian infrastructure, enforce parking controls etc were made at the ‘City Dialogue’.