The lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent slow resumption of transportation and related services have called for an introspection and the need for an overhaul of transportation systems. Globally various cities have initiated efforts to embrace a ‘new normal’ for transport, focusing on including pedestrian and cycling facilities in their transportation systems.
India’s urban public transport sector cannot afford to go back to the ‘old normal’ and grapple with the issues of congestion and air pollution. To highlight the same, Greenpeace India organized a car ramp-walk at the Community Centre at New Friends Colony. Greenpeace volunteers discussed the experiences and challenges of mobility with the urban dwellers.
Greenpeace volunteers walked down with wearable car cutouts that had humorous names such as “Insta Fume”, “Emission Possible” and “Asthamatic Automatic”.
Astitva, a Greenpeace volunteer explained about the activity with wit, he said, “You must’ve watched Mission Impossible. Now you are watching Emission Possible here, as it releases generous fumes everywhere it goes. Urban dwellers might own it and they know it never disappoints when it comes to carbon emissions. It is truly a notch above the rest and will ensure every street it passes is Dhuan Dhuan.”
Similar is the case with the sleek and shiny Asthmatic Automatic. The fuel guzzler of the decade - automatic car gives you less mileage than your iPhone charge. Aap sab ne dekha hoga - woh jo shaadi main chacha ji aate hai aur khoob peeke sabse thook thook ke baat karte hai? Asthmatic Automatic bilkul woh chachaji ki tarah hai! Kya peeta hai - kitna petrol peeta hai - Also the recipient of Fueloholic of the Year award! The volunteers urged the audience to put their hands together and BOOOOO for Asthmatic Automatic!
“Greenpeace India through this Carzilla ramp-walk demands for an improved transport system, where pedestrians are safe, and bicycles and other emission-free transports are encouraged, that can greatly help reduce air pollution,” said Astitva.
The latest research at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health also found that long-term exposure to PM2.5 leads to an increase in the COVID-19 mortality rate. The study underscores the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis. People who are exposed to air pollution increase the chances of getting a respiratory infection and increasing the severity of the symptoms.
Commenting on the need for sustainable cities, Shyam Gupta, Chairman of New Friends Colony, Community Center market addressed “Air pollution is a threat to our community. Our kids are impacted by toxic air. Toxic air is making an impact on unborn babies, it is increasing the risk of low birth weight for pregnant women apart from several respiratory ailments. This is the deciding time - NOW or NEVER.”
Delhi Traffic Police too joined the program and shared their experiences. “See our uniform, it turns from white to dusky by the end of the day. Just imagine how much of the dust we would be inhaling each day. Most of us have faced problems in respiration,” said Mahesh Kumar, a sub-inspector on duty near Crowne Plaza.
Bhumika Kumari, another volunteer at Greenpeace India said, “Citizens and Government need to work to ensure promotion and creation of clean, affordable, safe and efficient public transport for all. Strategic policy frameworks and infrastructure need to be developed so that buses, feeders, three-wheelers, delivery fleets and electric vehicles are encouraged. Apart from this, low emissions zones should be promoted where polluting vehicles are barred from entering city centres.”