The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has laid down a seven-point reform agenda for a transition to public transport in Indias eight most polluted cities,including Ahmedabad.
The seven other cities are Bangalore,Chennai,Kanpur,Lucknow,Pune,Sholapur and Delhi. EPCA regularly monitors the air pollution levels in these cities.
According to the EPCA,these cities can get funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to buy buses,only if they work towards achieving the reform agenda.
EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal said: Over the years,it has become clear that each city is fighting a losing battle against air pollution and growing congestion because of the growing number of vehicles. Economic progress of our cities will
depend on their environmental health. A turnaround is only possible when these cities recognise the need for a transition to public transport and adopt it.
It may be noted that the Union Ministry of Urban Development has recently announced a stimulus package under JNNURM as a one-time measure up to June 2009 to provide assistance for the purchase of buses,tying it with the transport sector reforms in these eight cities.
The reforms mentioned deals with the type of buses,setting up a dedicated transport fund,and issues of Urban Transport Management,like having a city level unified metropolitan transport authority,a regulatory mechanism for periodically revising fares,and setting up a traffic management control centre.
It also includes introducing the principle of Parking Restraint and a plan for multi-model integration,
including single ticketing to provide seamless travel.
Regarding the type of buses,the guidelines include,all million plus cities should procure buses as per the urban bus specifications in line with the auto fuel policy approved by the Union Government in 2002. Besides,20 per cent of these buses must be low floor.
The procurement should focus not only on the initial price,but also the life cycle cost so as to encourage modern buses. The project cost must not include the state and urban local body taxes.
The guideline also stipulates dedicated bus lane on all arterial lanes. It further states that the procurement should promote products with chassis and buses from manufacturing facilities in India.
A glance at the seven points
* Devise a strategy for bus ownership and management in the city based on current best practices and feasible options
* Understand the costs associated with bus management and options for financing and management,including fiscal reforms
* Examine the possibility of dedicated and demarcated bus lanes in the city
* Understand the availability and costs of urban buses in the country,so that decisions can be facilitated
* Devise an advertisement policy
* Devise a parking policy
* Devise a funding mechanism for public transport