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Ahmedabad reduces pollution while growing its economy

Innovative solutions such as bus-rapid transit have helped Ahmedabad balance its air quality with mobility needs. (Meena Kadri/flickr/cc)

Like many Indian cities, Ahmedabad faces a paradox. Andrew Harrop writes for CityMetric that increased economic prosperity comes with a significant downside: more vehicles spewing exhaust fumes. “The next crisis facing India’s cities is not a product of poverty, but affluence,” he writes.

For Indians entering the middle class, purchasing their first scooter, motorbike or car is a rite of passage. But the rise of the “internal combustion engine” in already congested and polluted Indian cities worries municipal officials. Even in second-tier cities such as Ahmedabad — where the challenges pale compared to megacities such as Mumbai — there is recognition that change must be revolutionary.

While many cities respond with large-scale projects such as metro systems, relief also can be found in simpler remedies, the article says. For the past 15 years, Ahmedabad has paid auto riskshaw drivers to convert their vehicles to run on compressed natural gas. As a result, air quality has improved alongside economic prosperity.

The city also boasts a bus-rapid transit network that rivals the capacity of a metro system, but “for a fraction of the cost,” Harrop notes. The writer is general secretary of the Fabian Society, Britain’s oldest political think tank.


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