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Green meet seeks congestion fee on bikes and cars in busy areas in India
Economic Times, 17 Jun '19

To reduce pollution in Mumbai, several environmental agencies came together on a common dais on June 15th to seek introduction of congestion charge for cars and two-wheelers in the busy areas of the metropolis. The green bodies, including NEERI and MPCB, suggested Rs. 1 per km fee for private cars and SUVs and Rs. 0.50 for two-wheelers.

"Busy city areas and suburbs such as Andheri, Malad and BKC can be cordoned off for congestion charges and the money collected should first go to BEST as it's the major mass transport claimant of the city roads," said Rakesh Kumar, director of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), who initiated the idea of congestion charges-it was seconded by manyat the state-level conference on 'eco-friendly transport to ensure clean air for Mumbai' organised by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) jointly with NEERI and Mumbai First on Saturday.

Mumbai is the 'Most Traffic Congested City' in the world with 65% congestion meaning road commuters in Mumbai spent 65% extra travel time.

Welcoming the idea, BEST general manager Surendra Bagade termed it a 'generous model' and said such a combination can strengthen the public transport.

MMRDA's chief of transport and communication Vijaya Laxmi said they had taken a decision to discourage parking facilities at the upcoming metro stations to encourage people to use the mass transport over private transport.

"Once we achieve a major share of public transport up to 75% in the city by 2031, then we can implement congestion charges in major areas or around the metro or railway stations," she said. A draft of the recommendations made at the conference will be submitted to the government soon, said Neville Mehta of Mumbai First.

The NEERI director said, "Other than cross-financing of congestion charges, there is a proposal to issue guideines for corporates in Mumbai in managing transport of their employees. There is a proposal to reward companies that manage the transport of employees in an eco-friendly and optimised manner." Also the conference insisted on promoting hybrid or electric vehicles besides ensuring maximum pedestrian areas to encourage present 1 km per pedestrian travel in the city to 2 km and beyond, Kumar told a daily soon after the concluding session of the conference.

Overall, travel by public transport accounts for 54% of km travelled in Mumbai while a major chunk is still attributed to private transport. This makes it necessary to to further improve overall quality, network reach and ease of access from feeder transport modes. MPCB chairman Sudhir Shrivastava indicated that maintaining control over vehicle growth and encouraging the use of public transport are their key objectives.