Panel Discussion on socio-environmental issues

Panel Discussion on socio-environmental issues

Kolkata: SwitchON Foundation as part of the Kolkata Earth Festival recently organized a multi stakeholder and panel discussions in Kolkata, says a press release.

This was the first year of the annual Kolkata Earth Festival organized together by the environmental groups SwitchON Foundation, Y-East and the EARTHDAY.ORG, in the city, with an attempt to highlight some of the most pressing socio-environmental issues of the region. 

The key panel discussions saw a strong consensus among stakeholders present, including policymakers, environmental and mobility experts, and Electric Vehicle (EV) industry stakeholders, on the need for urgent implementation of the ‘Clean Air Action Plan’ for Kolkata.

Rajanvir Singh Kapur (IAS) said, “As people increasingly choose eco-friendly options in their local areas, municipalities must do their part in providing their citizens with these options. Choosing to be environmentally conscious shouldn’t sacrifice convenience and cost, and the way to do this is to enable and promote eco-friendly mobility options.”

Dr. Dipanjali Majumdar from CSIR NEERI said, “The population of Kolkata is highly exposed to benzene. With the increasing number of private cars, there is a dire need to change our current mobility behavior. As more organizations, public institutions, and government bodies recognize the costs of air pollution, smog, and their huge impact on the environment, more resources need to be funnelled into developing strategies to reduce pollution in cities.”

Dr. Arup Haldar, a renowned pulmonologist from the Woodland Hospital said, “There is increasing number of cancer patient in Kolkata. Vehicular Congestion contributes to harmful CO2 emissions and release of other toxic elements causing serious neurobehavioral disorders. To improve air quality and public health, we need all hands on deck – in other words a holistic and multisectoral approach.”

Prof. Sudakshina Gupta from the Calcutta University, said, “Sustainable mobility reduces air pollution by incorporating eco-friendly practices into urban planning and management. Transport planning and environmental planning are both integral parts of urban planning. The road space in Kolkata is only 6% of its total area. It even becomes less due to parking of cars on both sides of the road. To get rid of the congestion problem, big electric buses may be introduced. That may substitute a few smaller cars and reduce the problems of congestion, pollution and parking space. Placing charging stations at appropriate places is also an important aspect of urban planning.”

Rising fuel costs along with pertinent environmental concerns are glaring causes why electric vehicles are the need of the day.

Based on this realization, the GoWB had earlier introduced an innovative Electric Vehicle Policy 2021 with a mission to place WB as the frontrunner in building a sustainable transportation infrastructure by promoting electric mobility ecosystem in the state.

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