Ban diesel autos

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With the introduction of diesel autos in recent years, air pollution has significantly increased in Imphal besides creating erratic traffic conditions. Carbon monoxide emitted by motor vehicle exhaust, more particularly that of diesel engines is one of the primary pollutants of the air around us. Other major pollutants are ash from a volcanic eruption and sulfur dioxide released from factories. We understand the huge employment opportunities in the crucial sector of public transport with EMI models of financial loans rolled out by banks. Yet, we must also be conscious about the health hazards and the environmental impact of polluted air. Research findings have shown that tiny chemical particles emitted by diesel exhaust fumes could raise the risk of heart attacks, besides several other problems. Scientists say ultrafine particles produced when diesel burns are harmful to blood vessels and can increase the chances of blood clots forming in arteries, leading to a heart attack or stroke. They have advised people with heart disease to avoid spending long periods outside in areas where traffic pollution is likely to be high, such as on or near busy intersections. Other findings say breathing diesel exhaust during pregnancy is associated with sluggishness in offspring, less spontaneous motor activity and that this inactivity was associated with alterations in brain metabolism of neurotransmitters. In the short term, breathing in diesel fumes can cause coughing, itchy or burning eyes, chest constriction, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Over the long term, exposure to diesel fumes may increase the risk of lung cancer and possibly bladder cancer. Having said this, we must start thinking on the lines of the Delhi model of public transport launched about 10 years ago. Public transport in Delhi was amended by the Supreme Court of India to use Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) instead of diesel or petrol. After the implementation of CNG since April 2001, Delhi has the highest fraction of CNG-run public vehicles in the world and most of them were introduced within 20 months. Vehicular pollution accounts significantly to the total pollution generated in Delhi. The most common method of public transport in Delhi comprises buses, minibuses, taxies and three wheelers. Their consumption of diesel is higher as compared to gasoline than possibly anywhere in the Western World. Further, diesel constitutes two-third of the total fuel consumption in the transport sector. On the other hand, about 40000 Indians are dying early every year because of air pollution, according to survey reports.  India spends millions every year on the treatment of diseases that are caused by ambient air pollution. One out of every ten school children in Delhi suffers from asthma that is worsening due to air pollution. A report prepared by Centre for Science and Environment shows that in cities, facing severe air pollution problems, the use of heavy-duty natural gas engines, in place of diesel, offers numerous environmental benefits. As per the directives of the Supreme Court, public transport was augmented to 10,000 buses; all pre-1990 autos and taxies were replaced with new vehicles on clean fuels; financial incentives were given for replacement of all post 1990 autos and taxies with new vehicles on clean fuel; buses older than 8 years are not allowed to ply without Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or other clean fuels; the entire city bus fleet was ordered to be steadily converted to single fuel mode; and the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL)was asked to expedite and expand from 9 to 80 CNG supply outlets. This was in fact one of the landmark judgments with regard to environmental protection. Before things get worse, we should apply our mind towards adopting the Delhi model for a Imphal with cleaner and healthy air. We could start by phasing out the diesel autos from the city within a limited timeframe.

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