Ahmedabad no longer fourth polluted city in India

Vol 12, PW 3 (26 Jun 08) Midstream & Downstream

CNG - only two years ago these three letters could have passed off as Latin or Greek for most citizens of Ahmedabad.

But today even a child knows that thanks to CNG, Ahmedabad’s population of 4.5m can breathe easier than before. Ahmedabad’s air quality has undergone a sea change since 2002, when the city’s 37,000 auto rickshaws began switching from petrol to CNG.

“Ahmedabad is a good example of how clean fuel can make your life healthier,â€‌ says Sanjiv Tyagi, member of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, and one of those responsible for bringing “hill stationâ€‌ air quality to Gujarat’s commercial capital. “We worked hard to raise awareness.

People can make a difference.â€‌ Nowhere are the results of the CNG revolution more noticeable than in Ahmedabad’s ranking with the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme of the Central Pollution Control Board, which monitors air quality in 85 cities across India.

In 2001, Ahmedabad was the fourth most polluted city in India. Today, it is the 50th most polluted.

Examine the numbers. In 2001, air quality in Ahmedabad measured 198-rspm (Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter); in 2002 it came down to 166; in 2003 to 136; and by 2006 it had dropped to 96.

Finally, last year it dropped to 82. “We are targeting 60-rspm,â€‌ adds Tyagi, with a hint of pride.

“The trend till May 2008 suggests we are on target.â€‌ Early reluctance by auto-rickshaw drivers to convert to CNG was soon overcome with explanation, persuasion and a one-off Rs10,000 ($250) payment if they switched from petrol.

On January 1 last year the state government went a step further by totally banning petrol driven autos. Cost is another factor, with CNG around 70% cheaper than petrol.

“An auto rickshaw can run 50-km on one kg of CNG,â€‌ Adani Energy, the main CNG seller in Ahmedabad tells us. “This means the running cost per kilometre is 50 to 60 paise, while the equivalent cost of petrol is Rs1.20.