Indian cities are experiencing an explosive motorization phase. It had taken 60 years – from 1952 to 2008 – for the number of registered vehicles in the country to reach 105 million. But thereafter, the same number was added in a mere six years – between 2009 and 2015. At the same time, the share of public transport in overall transportation modes is expected to decrease from 75.5 percent in 2000-01, to 44.7 percent in 2030-31.
In the study, with an aggregate of toxic emissions from urban commuting practices, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, the cities were ranked based on calculations of heat-trapping (CO2). The study took two approaches to rank the cities one based on overall emission and energy consumption and the other on per person trip emissions and energy consumption.
Kolkata is the top-performing megacity. Bhopal leads the list on the lowest overall emissions.
Delhi and Hyderabad are the two cities that fare at the bottom of the table in terms of pollution and energy use.
In terms of overall emissions and energy consumption, Bhopal was followed by Vijayawada, Chandigarh, and Lucknow.
Kolkata, which comes in at the sixth place on overall emissions, won among the six megacities.
In fact, smaller cities such as Ahmedabad and Pune ranked below Kolkata for overall emissions.
Delhi ranked at the bottom of the table for overall emission. Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Chennai fared a little better than Delhi.
Concerns and causes:
Motorization in India is explosive. Initially, it took 60 years (1951-2008) for India to cross the mark of 105 million registered vehicles. Thereafter, the same number of vehicles was added in a mere six years (2009-15).
According to the report, though metropolitan cities scored better than megacities due to lower population, lower travel volume, and lower vehicle numbers, they were at risk due to a much higher share of personal vehicle trips.
Importance of public transport: Kolkata provides a resounding message that despite population growth and rising travel demand, it is possible to contain motorization. This is possible only with a well established public transport culture, compact city design, high street density and restricted availability of land for roads and parking. Both Kolkata and Mumbai have grown with a unique advantage of a public transport spine well integrated with existing land use patterns.
Independent of income levels: Mumbai had the highest GDP but a lower rate of motorization compared with other megacities, proving that income levels were not the only reason for deciding a population’s dependence on automobiles.
Meanwhile, Chennai was the first city to adopt a non-motorized transport (NMT) policy in 2004 that aims to arrest the decline of walking or cycling by creating a network of footpaths, bicycle tracks, and greenways.