If Hyderabad does not want to choke and sneeze due to pollution, it has to act now said some representatives of the NGOs who are working for a better environment in the City.
They say the City needs action like conversion of fuel of vehicles into compressed natural gas (CNG), scaling up of public transport, integrated multi-modal transport options and walking.
They say that the green tax should be imposed on vehicles that do not comply with the emission levels and not after 15 years. Shiva Kumar, an environmentalist, says tax should be levied based on the level of pollutants vehicles emit and not on their age — after 7 or 15 years.
Hyderabad, in fact, is facing a danger of losing out on the gains it made in the first generation air pollution reforms, says an analysis of recent air quality data done by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based research organisation.
The CSE analysis stated that locations in the City, which are categorised ‘moderately polluted’ under the earlier norms, have spiralled into the ‘critically polluted’ category now, while other sites have moved from ‘low pollution’ to the moderate level.
Chaitanya another environment enthusiast, said that according to the Hyderabad City Development Plan, traffic volumes in the core areas of the city often exceed the designed capacity of the roads.
He felt that the green tax or increase of it was not the solution and that creating awareness among the public to reduce the pollution levels is the key.
What Hyderabad should do
1. Strengthen air quality monitoring systems
The city must spruce up its monitoring facilities to generate rigorous data on the critical air toxics. This should be supported by an assessment of the pollution sources and public health impacts.
2. Expedite CNG-public transport programme
The CNG programme, linked with an expanded bus transport system, is an important strategy for leapfrogging to cleaner emissions. The city needs a stringent timeline for expanding the refuelling infrastructure.
3. Scale up public transport:
Hyderabad has taken the lead to build its multi-modal transport system. But the network needs scale, integration and reliability. It is bus transport that carries the maximum number of passengers in the city – 42 per cent – will need scaling up.
4. Pedestrian infrastructure
Pedestrian infrastructure has a very poor rank. The City should legally mandate reformed pedestrian guidelines for approval of road projects and enhancement of the existing ones.
5. Introduce a good parking policy
Hyderabad must prevent on-street parking, use parking revenues to build other transport options and price parking to reduce personal vehicle use.
6. Enforce emission checks on in-use vehicles
The City must improve on its vehicle inspection systems and remove visibly smoking vehicles from the roads.
7. Strengthen green tax
The City must reduce taxes on public transport buses, and enhance green tax on personal vehicles. A dedicated urban transport fund must be created.