IMPACTS OF AUTOMOBILE POLLUTION
Before 1970 air and water pollution were considered serious problems. Noise and nuclear pollutions were added to these too – and ozone too. The smog that reduced the visibility in Malaysia and Mexico City and later the smog that engulfed the Los Angeles Valley in California in 1970 compelled the world to rise from the slumber. This photochemical smog was caused by the automobiles emitting different gases. Formerly only carbon dioxide was considered as the culprit. Carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides were added to the list. Scientifically it was proved that the problem was severe as the sum of these three pollutants can create havoc. That is what we are observing throughout the world as automobiles are considered the most convenient source of travel.
In 1999 the numbers of vehicles in India were estimated at 35 million. It was expected to be 53 million by the end of 2000.3.6 million vehicles are produced per year. The older vehicles emit more gases. This damage can hardly be rectified. In a few decades India may become not only a super vehicular country in the world but a super vehicle polluted country too.
We have generally been talking about the levels and density of air pollution by different gases in India. No attempts were made to calculate the economic costs. A recent study by the World Bank officials reveals that damage to environment costs our country about 10 billion dollars every year. Urban air pollution affects the peoples’ health to the extent of $ 2.1 billion. Soil degradation costs agricultural output to $2.3 billion. Health is already a problem in India that is yet a developing country. Because of growing population the people suffer from more infectious diseases. 80 to 90 % of all cancers are because of environmental hazards.
Looking to the fate of people in developing countries California has taken strict action about the manufacture of non polluting engines, Ultra Light Emission vehicles and zero emission vehicles. In India toot he vehicle manufacturers are improving their engine designs. Oil companies too are improving in the fuel and are supplying low sulphur diesel and unleaded petrol. The Supreme Court too has passed interim orders that vehicle owners shall conform to Euro I norms and Euro II norms. Thus in the National Capital Region from May 1, 1999 registration was restricted to 250 diesel and 1250 petrol Euro I vehicles a month. Later on no vehicle will be registered if the vehicle does not conform to Euro II norms. Euro I regulate emission in Europe in terms of weight of pollutants expelled every kilometer. Euro II means a shift from the carburetor to the multi- point fuel injections in piston rings, wiring harness and engine design. In India it would cost an extra Rs. 30,000 to Rs.50, 000 per four wheeler. Almost all the states are making efforts in this direction and the manufacturers are cooperating. Naturally, the problem is to be tackled scientifically with the cooperation of the authorities, oil companies, automobile manufacturers, transport industry and the society. We have to save the coming generations from this ever increasing pollution.