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Missing the green bus

Is the Red brigade thinking green? Hopefully that, and nothing else, led transport minister Subhas Chakraborty to allow a Citu-backed private bus strike last Wednesday to protest police action against rogue drivers.

The strike meant endless woes for commuters, but spelt good news for the environment.

Fewer buses on the roads meant the city air was spared at least 1.4 tonnes of carbon monoxide and 4.2 tonnes of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. Carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are two of the biggest contributors to global warming.

Data from the state pollution control board show that on Wednesday the pollution level went down by around 15 per cent compared to the same day last year.

“Each bus runs an average 200 km daily, emitting 600gm of fumes. With 7,000-odd buses plying in Calcutta, the amount of emission can be pegged at 4.2 tonnes,” said environment expert S.M. Ghosh. He pointed out that the actual situation is far worse as most private buses are poorly maintained, rarely undergo auto emission tests and spew more toxic fumes than permitted.

A study by the Asian Development Bank in 2005 found that buses are responsible for 67 per cent of particulate matter released in the city by vehicles; 73 per cent of nitrogen oxides; 12 per cent of hydrocarbons and 15 per cent of carbon monoxide. Overall, they are responsible for more than one-third of the city’s vehicular pollution.

“All three — carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides — have a moderate global warming potential,” said Siddhartha Dutta, an environment expert.

A climate congrats, comrade.

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