Exposure to toxic vehicular pollution has worsened in India due to staggering pace of motorisation, with the number of registered vehicles going up 700 times from 0.3 million in 1951 to 210 million in 2015, a study has said. The study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) titled 'At The Crossroads' -- has revealed that the growing number of private vehicles without adequate public transport in cities will lock in enormous amounts of pollution and carbon.
"Even when vehicles are emerging as a serious source of exposure in cities, solution at a scale has remained a challenge. This is a serious national issue as India is in the grip of a staggering pace of motorisation," it said.
"It took 60 years (1951 to 2008) for India to cross the mark of 105 million registered vehicles. But thereafter, the same number was added in a mere six years (2009–15). The number of vehicles in India has increased 700 times -- from 0.3 million in 1951 to 210 million in 2015," it said. According to the study, the number of cars registered in India between 1951 and 2005 stood at 10.3 million and cars almost twice that number were registered in just ten years -- 20 million from 2006 to 2015.
It said the number of two-wheelers registered in India from 1951 to 2004 was 51.9 million, more than twice the number of those registered from 2005 to 2015. As many as 102 million two-wheelers were registered during the 10-year period. "If cars and two-wheelers are combined, the personal motorisation rate in India would exceed that of many advanced countries. Automobile dependence will worsen exposure to toxic vehicular pollution," the study said.
"The situation is dire as adequate attention has not been paid to the development of public transport systems and promotion of walkable and cycling environments," it said. "Cities have to move lakhs of travel trips a day, but without adequate public transport, cities will lock in enormous (amounts of) pollution and carbon," it added.
"Every trip made in a car or two-wheeler pollutes around seven to 14 times more than a trip made in a bus in Delhi. But bus ridership is declining and even pedestrians and cyclists are under pressure due to poor infrastructure and unsafe roads," the CSE said. According to the Delhi Master Plan 2020–21, public transport ridership should be at least 80 per cent of all motorised trips by 2020-21.
A report submitted by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority to the Supreme Court had said that there is an enormous shortfall in the current level of public transport services. It had called for a massive augmentation of public transport so that people do not use their cars.