Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Panel wants infrastructure for green vehicles

As more and more private vehicles add to city roads, increasing congestion and pollution, the Government may promote non-motorised transport (NMT) modes like cycling — at its own expense. A working group, set up by the Planning Commission to chalk out strategy for urban transport in the 12th Plan (2012-17), has suggested that the Government must build infrastructure for zero-pollution modes of transport like cycling and cycle rickshaw. The group is headed by Delhi Metro ex-chief E Sreedharan.

The working group report, which would form basis of urban transport in the 12th Plan, proposes a new scheme to promote bicycles, developing walking facilities and modernisation of rickshaws. The report says, "The infrastructure cost for these would be borne by the Government while the operation and maintenance should be on Public Private Partnership (PPP)." The Government must provide facilities for walking and cycling in all 2-lakh plus cities and State capitals. The scheme should be called 'public bicycle scheme'.

In larger cities of 5-lakh plus population, ITS-enabled public bicycle schemes with modern cycles would be introduced with a complete infrastructure cost of cycles and cycle stands as well as control centre being borne by the Government whereas the operation and maintenance to be done through PPP. To make cycling a fashion statement in India and to provide safe pedestrian and cycle infrastructure, it recommends to have a dedicated NMT cell in each municipality/municipal corporation.

Also, there is a need to develop an upgraded cycle rickshaw as an integral part of the last mile connectivity for city-wide public transport network as metro reaches to more cities. Several American and European manufacturers of cycle rickshaws, often incorporate features not found in developing world vehicles, such as hydraulic disc brakes, and lightweight fibre-glass bodies, multispeed gears to lessen the effort for the rickshaw puller. Similar upgrades are needed in India. This is not only a non-polluting mode but also a major employment generator.

For all this, the Government must provide 100 per cent funding. The group has estimated a total cost of Rs 15,451 crore for this over the next five years.

The report reveals that use of NMT has declined sharply, especially that of cycling and cycle-rickshaws. Road congestion, increase in trip length due to urban sprawl, increase in purchase power of people and totally inadequate facilities for cycling have all contributed to reducing cycling to less than 11 per cent of the mode share which is down from nearly 30 per cent in 1994. And pedestrians also continue to be neglected.

It underlines that the present model share of public transport and NMT should not be allowed to decline in the 12th plan. NMT should get first priority in infrastructure development and funding. Funds allocation for major transport infrastructure should be linked to achieving targets for creating facilities for NMT.


No comments: