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Monday, September 27, 2021

Bring back cycles: TMC MP & other eminent figures want govt to lift restriction

The state had banned bicycles on 64 major roads, including Camac Street, Shakespeare Sarani, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Rashbehari Avenue Connector and Ashutosh Mukherjee Road during the second Covid-19 wave.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
August 10, 2021 6:09:55 am
SwitchON Foundation, a not-for-profit group, has penned the letter and has been running the #BringBackCycles campaign online. (Source: SwitchON Foundation)

Terming the state government’s ban on bicycle movement “unjustified”, an NGO in an open letter, endorsed by eminent personalities including a TMC MP, urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to lift the restriction to cut air pollution levels and congestion in Kolkata.

The state had banned bicycles on 64 major roads, including Camac Street, Shakespeare Sarani, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Rashbehari Avenue Connector and Ashutosh Mukherjee Road during the second Covid-19 wave.

Some of the personalities who agreed with the demand are actor-director Aparna Sen, writer Amitav Ghosh, archer Rahul Banerjee, TMC MP Saugata Roy, singer Usha Uthup and writer Ruskin Bond.

Roy said, “I am all for cycles. I want cycles back on the roads of Kolkata. This would reduce pollution and save fuel. All over Europe, cycles are the new rage. Let cycles come back. Our party MPs went by cycle to Parliament on the first day of the Monsoon session.”

SwitchON Foundation, a not-for-profit group, has penned the letter and has been running the #BringBackCycles campaign online.

The letter also highlighted a study on the air pollution impact on traffic policemen to buttress its argument. Published in April 2021, the study — Evaluation of Impact of Ambient Air Pollution on Respiratory Health of Traffic Police in Kolkata — found that high levels of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) resulted in reduced lung function among traffic policemen mostly in north Kolkata followed by south and central zones. Reduced lung functions of policemen, the study argued, made them vulnerable to Covid-19. The study was conducted by researchers from Sister Nibedita Government General Degree College for Girls, Kolkata and University of Kalyani. A total of 228 police personnel participated in the study, of whom 128 undertook pulmonary lung function tests.

“From the study we found PM 2.5 and PM 10 are key polluting agents in Kolkata. Although ambient air quality varies across locations and with seasons, working traffic cops were found to be seriously vulnerable due to long term exposure,” said Subhashis Sahu, co-author of the study.

Sahu explained to improve air quality, less polluting transportation such as cycles was key.

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