Energy and Emission Linkages from the Three Wheeler Autorickshaws of Kolkata: An Exploratory Analysis of the Impact on Economic, Environmental, Social Dimensions of Sustainability

Energy and Emission Linkages from the Three Wheeler Autorickshaws of Kolkata: An Exploratory Analysis of the Impact on Economic, Environmental, Social Dimensions of Sustainability

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4995-8.ch015
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Three wheeler autorickshaws in Kolkata used to run on “Kata Tel” for quite sometime in the past. Based on the data of 2010, this chapter explores the nature of the impact of operation of these autorickshaws on emissions, health and different economic aspects like income generation. It also highlights the institution structure by means of which these autorickshaws operated within the transport sector of Kolkata. Through interviews, primary field visits and discussion-based analysis the chapter reveals some facts which existed sometime back and still exist to a certain extent in Kolkata and have an impact on the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability.
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There is an increasing realisation of the deep impact of energy usage on the economy and environment. Even international relations among various economies (developed and developing) are being governed by energy factor (Zia and Devadas, 2007). In energy sector, India faces two fold challenge. On one hand, there is a need to move towards ensuring energy security1 and on the other hand, there is also a need for reducing carbon emissions while ensuring energy security. India’s transport sector accounts for a large part of energy consumption of liquid fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel, which are subject to green house gas (GHG) effects. Although this sector’s per capita share of GHG emissions is admittedly low in developing countries compared to developed countries, energy consumption in the transport sector is growing faster in comparison to other sectors (Mapako et al., 2009). The problem is enhanced with the increase in number of motor vehicles and population in the cities (Petrovic et al., 2008).

Among the transport sector in India, road, rail and air are responsible for overall emission of 80%, 13% and 6% pollutants respectively (Ramachandra and Shwetmala, 2009).

The rapid growth in motor vehicle activity in Indian cities has brought in a range of socioeconomic, environmental, health, and welfare impacts (Badami, 2005). In Indian transport sector total number of registered automobiles added up to 54 lakhs in 1980-81. The number increased and became 7 crores 27 lakhs by 2003-04 (TEDDY, 2007). As a result, number of pollutants in the air has increased (see Table 5 in Appendix), which can be evinced from the fact that most cities have exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQ) standards and 60 out of 62 metropolitan cities of India have exceeded World Health Organization (WHO) standards (Nesamani, 2010).

With CO2 emissions being a major obstacle to sustainable development, and the transport share of such emissions increasing, a crucial issue is to investigate what a future transport system with sustainable emissions could look like and how it could be achieved (Akerman and Hojer, 2006). Thus policies to balance energy security needs and CO2 emission reduction are of relevance for India’s transport sector.

Use of cleaner fuel and LPG or CNG instead of petrol has been witnessed in states of India. There are views that LPG, should play a greater role in road-transport-fuel policy because of certain reasons. The reasons are that they are more secure than conventional and most alternative road-transport fuels and it is superior to most road-transport fuels with respect to public health and environmental impact. Also LPG is available commercially today, although most alternatives are not (Johnson, 2003).

This chapter analyses the status of nature, type and factors guiding the fossil fuel usage in three-wheelers auto sector of Kolkata. In order to do that socioeconomic and other related factors have been studied. Policies over the years guiding such usages in the auto sector are also being analysed. In this context the recent petrol to LPG transition for the auto sector in Kolkata are also analysed. In order to do that there is a discussion in the chapter related to different regulatory instruments to control GHG emissions from the transport sector mentioned in the literature along with the earlier steps taken in this regard in India and West Bengal particularly. Section 3 discusses the reasons for which we have chosen Kolkata and its auto sector. Section 4 deals with the survey methodology applied for the paper to assess the factors, policies and implications of nature and type of fossil fuel usage in the auto sector of Kolkata.

Section 5 and 6 brings out the main findings followed by plausible policy implications thereby leading to the conclusion section of 7.

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