“And yet we are building infrastructure to use more fossil fuels, in a city that is at danger from rising sea levels in coming years,” said Hussain Indorewala, researcher and assistant professor at Kamala Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environment Studies.
Instead of arresting the decline in the share of public transport in Mumbai’s daily commute, infrastructure planners continue to spend heavily on promoting private automobile trips, speakers at a talk on the climate crisis in the city said Tuesday.
While an Asian Development Bank paper on the Mumbai Metro stated that the share of public transport in all trips in Mumbai went from 88 per cent in 1994 to 78 per cent in 2005, and 70 per cent in 2015, statistics compiled by independent groups showed private car rides having grown from 13 per cent to nearly 26 per cent between 1998 and 2018.
“And yet we are building infrastructure to use more fossil fuels, in a city that is at danger from rising sea levels in coming years,” said Hussain Indorewala, an urban conservationist, researcher and assistant professor at Kamala Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environment Studies.
He added that while on the one hand, the justification for the under-construction coastal road is that faster-moving vehicles will cause lower emissions, new road infrastructure in fact is usually an inducement for more vehicles on the roads.
“Meanwhile, the detailed project report for the Metro says we need more metros because we must reduce the number of cars on the roads. Incredibly, the same planning principles are ignored by other agencies when they’re building other infrastructure,” he said.
Indorewala was speaking at a day-long event held by the Forum of Environmental Journalists in India (FEJI) in memory of late senior journalist Darryl D’Monte. At current costs, it appears that the Mumbai coastal road project is more expensive to build per kilometre than even the Metro Rail.
Earlier, Professor Shyam Asolekar of the Indian Institute of Technology-Powai said it is time to start studying micro-pollutants and other anthropogenic pollutants in Mumbai’s water bodies. Asolekar, who is the MPCB Chair Professor at IIT’s Environmental Science and Engineering department, said his team of research students is currently studying the Banganga tank and the Powai lake for rejuvenation programmes.