The burgeoning vehicular population in Chandigarh is not only adding to the traffic woes but has also taken its toll on City Beautiful’s ambient air quality.
As per the latest data of Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC), the Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) exceeds the permissible limits at primary locations of the city.
The New Delhi based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in its survey on air quality challenges in Chandigarh has revealed that air quality monitoring shows that several locations have become pollution hotspots. These include Sector 17, Industrial Area I, Kaimbalwala village among others. The latest available data shows that these have hit the critical level and increased public health risks.
The ambient air quality levels monitored by CPCC shows RSPM levels exceeds the permissible limits of 60 µg/m3 while Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen oxide are below the permissible limits of 40-60 µg/m3 at five locations in the city including Sector 17, Industrial Area, Punjab Engineering College, IMTECH Sector 39, and Kaimbwala village.
The RSPM levels of 100 µg/m3 at the city’s heart - Sector 17, 131 µg/m3 at Industrial area-I, 119 µg/m3 at Kaimbwala village, 102 µg/m3 at IMTECH Sector 39 and 97 µg/m3 at Punjab Engineering College against the permissible limits of 60 µg/m3 have been registered in the city.
The CSE in its assessment also stated that with high per capita car ownership in Chandigarh, there is also a risk to energy insecurity and high emissions of heat trapping carbon-dioxide. In Chandigarh, new registration of cars every year creates demand for additional land for parking equal to 58 football fields.”
After one year of its establishment, the city had around 940 vehicles and the number of vehicles has increased to over 9.5 lakh.
Drawing a comparison between Chandigarh and Delhi, the CSE survey stated that Chandigarh has 4,41,284 vehicles per 1,000 km of road length whereas Delhi has 2,43,783 vehicles per 1,000 km of road length. Chandigarh has 227 cars per 1,000 people, whereas Delhi has 117 cars per 1,000 (2011).
The survey has also revealed that 36 per cent of streets have no street lights in Chandigarh and a miniscule 5 per cent have lights on both sides of the street.
In its assessment of the walking and cycling infrastructure of Chandigarh, the CSE stated that the cycle tracks and footpaths along Jan Marg score well on engineering features while poor lighting conditions make the track unsafe to walk or cycle in the evenings and no measures are in place for safe crossing of cyclists and walkers.
“In residential areas from sectors 22 and 25, the cycle tracks and footpaths show poor engineering features and very low usage. In sectors 4 and 22, the engineering features do not reflect compliance with the guidelines of the Indian Road Congress and individual house owners have encroached on the footpath to make gardens or to park cars,” pointed out the CSE findings.
The CSE stated, “Around PGIMER and Punjab University, the motor vehicles have been allowed at very high speed — 65 km/hr and there are no traffic calming measures.”
“In Chandigarh, rotaries at intersections need design improvement to make them safer and calmer. Also, car-centric infrastructure here threatens walking and cycling infrastructure. The traffic engineering and management measures here are increasingly focusing on corridor improvement through traffic circulation measures such as ban on certain turning movements, one way streets, underpasses at junctions etc,” pointed out the CSE assessment.
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