Researchers paint grave scenario for Bengaluru in 2030

If the air around the city looks hazy now, imagine what it will be like in a little more than a decade, when vehicles will over-run the city, assuming governments continue their cavalier attitudes towards transportation.

Researchers of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) have tabulated that by 2030, if ‘business as usual’ continues, the city will see an increase in carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles by nearly 24 times.

As part of the Indo-Norwegian project ‘Climatrans’, IISc., along with institutes from Norway and India, sought to model the way the city commutes, and to find scientific ways of mitigating the associated problems of pollution and congestion.

By 2030, the cumulative vehicular kilometres travelled (which accounts for number of vehicles as well as potential trips for work and pleasure to be taken) will touch 48 million kilometres daily, up from 31 million kilometres currently. Clearly, if nothing is done, pollution and congestion will drastically rise.

“Bengaluru is stuck in a vicious circle of congestion. We are trying to deal with the volume of vehicles by increasing capacity, that is, building flyovers, underpasses and widening roads. But this capacity will lead to more vehicles,” said Ashish Verma, Chairman, Transport Engineering Lab, Department of Civil Engineering (IISc.), who is the principal investigator for the four-year project.

Electrifying Bengaluru

To break the cycle, researchers charted out a few scenarios, combining planning, regulatory, economic and technology measures.

Of these scenarios, the best was to increase the coverage of public transit, declaring car-free roads, introducing a steep congestion charge, introducing cycling and walking facilities, encouraging car-pooling lanes, and ensuring mixed development of commercial and development to lower travel distances of those going to work. Coupled with an additional tax on fuel-guzzling vehicles and ensuring all vehicles run on electric motors, the results will change the face of Bengaluru, notes the research.

Their models show that these measures will cut down vehicle movement by around 4.7% in 2030, saving at least 2.2 million kilometres being travelled daily while the associated carbon dioxide emission goes down by 35 tonnes per person per year.

Electric not clean

However, can electric car technology be clean when sources of electricity production itself are among the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions? Bengaluru might get cleaner air, but hinterlands where coal plants are set will be blanketed by smoke.

Electrification of vehicles does more bad than good if electricity is generated from non-renewable sources, notes the report. “The coal plants have high emissions and these should be attributed to Bengaluru where the consumption is. And our models show that by adopting clean renewable energy sources, the per capita emissions can reduce drastically too,” said Prof. Verma.

Ideally, if 100% renewable energy is used to power our vehicles, carbon dioxide pollution load will decrease by a staggering 98%. A similar decrease is seen in Particulate Matter pollution.

However, is it realistic to assume that green energy will prevail?

“We have 11 years to achieve this, and it is the intention of the Centre and State to work towards this. We have presented scenarios to show the benefit of implementing it well,” said Prof. Verma.

Flooding in Bengaluru

During heavy rains, the city comes to a standstill. The poorly designed city sees nearly one-third of its major roads inundated, with some parts (5% of the road network) even seeing accumulation of more than 1.5 feet of water.

Overlaying the flood map (taken when the city saw 266mm of rain in just four hours in 2015) with the road network, IISc. researchers attempted to find strategies to ensure that rains do not bring vehicular movement to a complete halt.

Their complex models revealed that a comprehensive strategy involving replacing impermeable road surface with permeable material (for instance, interlock tiles) to reduce run-off, rehabilitation of slums and habitations in low-lying areas, increasing drainage network and construction of alternative roads in flood-prone areas can see average speed of vehicles during rains increase by 27% by 2030.

Similarly, if over 1.8 lakh trips (vehicular movement) are cancelled during floods as people become stranded in their homes, these strategies can ensure free movement even during times of rain.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 9:48:58 PM |

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