Bengaluru along with London has been chosen to lead a host of global cities to find solutions to counter increasing air pollution. This is as a part of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group initiative involving 90 cities across the globe.
Five other Indian cities are part of this initiative— Chennai, Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, and Mumbai.
According to their website, C40 is an international non-profit focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks while increasing the health, well-being and economic opportunities of urban citizens.
On Tuesday, Bengaluru Mayor R Sampath Raj met London Mayor Sadiq Khan in New Delhi and signed a treaty. As per the treaty, the two cities will play a mentoring role for other cities to adopt measures to curb air pollution.
The C40 Air Quality Network conference will be held in Bengaluru in January/February 2018 (date yet to be fixed) where leaders from all across the world will speak about finding solutions to minimise air pollution.
Having been chosen to lead the conference, Bengaluru will share best case practices in curbing air pollution.
Speaking to TNM, Mayor Sampath Raj said, “Everybody knows about New Delhi- that the air quality is bad. They have AQI (Air Quality Index) which is around 650-800 (particulate matter 2.5). But the same can happen to Bengaluru if we don’t act now.”
He said that currently, the AQI in Bengaluru remains less than 100.
According to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, an AQI of 100 is considered satisfactory.
The Mayor pointed out vehicular pollution and dust from under construction buildings are the major contributors to air pollution in Bengaluru.
“In order to minimise construction of newer roads, the BBMP is stressing on TenderSURE roads. Once built, we don’t have to worry about it for the next 40 years. With these, we are also encouraging people to walk or use cycles,” he said.
Sampath also said, “We are doing a lot of things. One of the major initiatives is to build a 32-km cycle track across the city. So, people can take the bicycle after getting off the metro.”'
The Mayor said that the shared bicycle systems by the BMRCL and the BBMP will solve the last mile problem for metro users. Besides this, Bengaluru’s civic body has called a tender for 150 electric buses and Sampath promised that mini-buses will be introduced to decrease the number of vehicles on the road. He said in future the futuristic Pod Taxis will also help curb pollution.
When it comes to vehicular pollution, Sampath Raj said that although the population of the city is 1.2 crore, the number of vehicles is 70 lakh and there is a need for more stringent enforcement of emission norms.
“We have asked the RTO and traffic police department to be vigilant so that everybody follows the rules. But the problem is with vehicles in transit,” Sampath Raj said.
“We will soon ensure that buses and autos run on CNG,” he added.
Speaking about construction waste, the Mayor has said that although every builder should mandatorily cover the under-construction, the rule is not strictly followed.
“There is a limit to which we can enforce the rule. We are trying to create awareness— they should also have a concern for the city that is giving them everything,” he added.
Air pollution is responsible for 6.5 million premature deaths globally every year, according to the World Health Organisation. There were nearly 1.1 million early deaths in India in 2015 due to air pollution.