The Deputy Prime Minister of UK, Mr. John Prescott called on the Union Minister of Environment and Forests in New Delhi on December 6, 1999. During the meeting, both countries acknowledged each otherís constructive role in protecting and improving the environment and noted the initiatives taken in the two counties for controlling and preventing pollution.
After the meeting, a Statement of Cooperation on Sustainable Transport was signed by India and the UK. While Shri T.R. Baalu signed the statement on behalf of India, Mr. John Prescott singed it on behalf of UK. The theme of the statement of cooperation is prevention and control of vehicular pollution. This is a step forward for cooperation between the two countries in the areas of improving fuel efficiency, cleaner fuels, integrated transport issues, traffic planning and management.
Projects will be identified for collaboration between institutions, which will focus on transfer of technology, development of air quality strategies and systems for monitoring vehicular pollution, designing an inspection and maintenance system to control vehicular pollution and improve transport safety, exchange of experiences about cleaner fuels and technologies, promoting public transport and awareness-building about sustainable transport issues.
According to the Statement of Cooperation, an effective inspection and maintenance (I&M) system will help in the maintenance of emission standards and act as an incentive for motorists to keep their vehicles properly tuned and maintained. An I&M system is crucial for regulating pollution from in-use vehicles, a category distinct from the more recently introduced vehicles which are in any case under a discipline imposed by the mass emission norms, The bulk of vehicles are in use, which need to be regulated. An I&M system, for inspection, maintenance and certification of vehicles, will include testing of the various elements of safety, road worthiness and compliance with pollution norms which will cover both commercial and non-commercial vehicles.
The Statement further states that the accent on sustainability will take cognizance of non-motorized transport. Considering that the share of bicycle traffic in India is very substantial, and will continue to be so, it is important to facilitate bicycle movement in urban areas with a view to managing traffic and relieve congestion. In the cities, there is a convincing case for developing dedicated lanes and related infrastructure for cycles as part of the transport network. This will also mitigate the accident proneness of the cyclists.