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India moots green transport

On Earth Day, the Indian government looks at Indian alternatives to tackle global climate change and releases an atlas to monitor the damage to the nation's environment.

Subhra Priyadarshini

doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.187 Published online 22 April 2008

© NASA

Some of New Delhi's mass transport 'Metro' stations saw school children urging people to leave their cars home and jump on to the next public transport. They were distributing car stickers that pleaded everyone to switch over to greener travel options.

Hundreds of such students from the capital's schools were on a signature campaign 'Say Yes to Public Transport', the Indian government's new mantra to contain the damages of climate change.

India's minister of state for environment Namo Narain Meena fell back on the traditional Indian values of self control in consumption and judicious use of natural resources in his speech for the day. "Children must take special interest in following our traditions of living with modesty and compassion," was his advice to youngsters fed on a culture of malls, designer labels and lifestyle products.

Chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) R. K. Pachauri was all for car-pooling. "Public transportation is one of the most important tools to minimize carbon output and the most powerful weapon you can use to combat global climate change. Encouraging use and expanding public transportation should be a part of our national strategy," he said.

Speaking to Nature India earlier, he laid emphasis on regional solutions to the global problem. "Executives in Japan are requested not to wear ties on certain months since it would mean less air conditioning. People in The Netherlands are urged cycle down to work. We can, at least, look at public transport as a means to do our bit."

India launched its first Digital Environmental Atlas on the occasion. The thematic maps of the atlas (green for forest and biodiversity, blue for water resources and brown for air pollution) are a compendium of the country's environmental spatial data drawn up using simple GIS functionalities.