TODAY -

Powering city transport system
- Hueiyen Lanpao Editorial :: March 04, 2015 -



Urban planning now cannot be delinked from the necessity of putting in place an environmentally sustainable transport system. Perhaps, it is with this thought in mind, the State Government is envisaging the introduction of battery-powered auto-rickshaw service in areas under Imphal Municipal Corporation.

Works and Transport Minister Dr Kh Ratankumar informed Manipur Legislative Assembly on Monday that a Detailed Project Report (DPR) is being prepared for the introduction of battery-powered auto-rickshaw service in Imphal under the National Electric Mode Project.

While not going into the actual details of what motivated the State Government to opt for such a transport service, the plan is likely to bring in both economic and environmental benefits.

However, what the State Government now needs to do now is to anticipate the reactions of those who had been running the 1,445 registered passenger diesel autos currently operating in Imphal municipal area.

There should be adequate measures taken to allay fears from the minds of both the owners and drivers of the diesel autos that the Government’s move will have negative impact on their livelihood.

Here, it is worth recalling the initial massive opposition to the introduction of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) run public and private passenger vehicles in Delhi during the early 2000s.

In fact, there were protests over the introduction of CNG run vehicles from those who had run the transport business heavily relying on the consumption of diesel and petrol.

Over ten years after, all could see how Delhi’s air became dramatically cleaner than the past. Most critics were finally silenced by the overall advantage of CNG.

There may be a huge qualitative difference between the grim air pollution scenario witnessed in Delhi during the 1990s and the current environmental condition of Imphal.

This does not mean the authorities should not let the public reap the benefits of clean and efficient transport system.

While opting for clean fuel or battery-powered vehicles for public transport, any policy makers should learn a lesson or two from a conscientiously made documentary film called ‘Who Killed the Electric Car’ (2006).

The film explores the introduction of electric car in the United States and the final destruction of the battery/electric powered vehicles owing to irresponsible lobbying by big multinational automobile companies aided by petroleum magnets.

Though the quantum of total fuel or for that matters even battery powered transport system in the State may not have any effect on the overall strength of automobile or oil companies operating in India, it will always be wiser to opt for what is recommended for a clean and healthy environment.

However, here it should be reminded that any path chosen should also take into consideration the effectiveness of a workable transport system that ultimately benefits the citizens.



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