Last week Arvind Kejriwal, CM, Delhi, announced the “Odd/Even” rule for cars on Delhi roads.. The rule merely defines what cars can ply on which day of the week in the national capital. And the day after that, National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked the state government to not allow registration of any new diesel vehicles in Delhi. It also suggested that diesel vehicles older than 10 years be taken off the roads.
Our governments are building cities for cars.. Citizens demand wider than ever roads.. We have six-lane one-ways! We build flyovers and underpasses so that there’s a smooth flow of traffic even as we know that these structures have only moved the jam from one place to another. The question that arises is – How sustainable are these solutions? Are we really going to tackle pollution this way?
I used to work in Whitefield, Bangalore. My house was 40kms away from the office and I used to take the shuttle provided by my employer. It used to take 80-100 minutes (sometimes 120 mins) to cover that distance. While I used to cover 32 kms in the first forty to fifty minutes, the remaining time was spent at the notorious Graphite India junction. When my manager announced that we are shifting premises to Dairy Circle on Bannerghatta Road, I felt relieved. It would only be 22kms from my house. I dreamt of reaching home early. But that remained a dream. It used to take the same number of minutes.
Eventually, I was frustrated and changed my company. My new employer was located in Manyata Tech Park, Nagavara. 16kms from my house. When I joined there, my cab used to cover that distance in 30-35 minutes. It has been 10 months and now it takes an hour to cover 16kms. Most people would feel that 16kms in an hour’s time is good compared to many localities in Bangalore, but, what they do not know is that there are only two traffic signals (the major one being Hebbal flyover junction) between my house and my office.
Over the last four and a half years, I’ve really learnt that people easily blame the government and the establishment for the situation in Bangalore. We all blame lack of planning, bad infrastructure, population boom, IT, BT and what not! What people don’t do is to look into the mirror and question their own souls on how much they are contributing towards the traffic and towards the solution to the problems.
Everyday, I see people driving down to the office all alone in their personal cars (hatchbacks, SUVs, MUVs). These are people who spend precious 2-3 hours of their everyday life on the roads, waiting at the signals, listening to the radio and burning precious fuel. And all through the journey, they blame Modi, Siddaramaiah, SM Krishna, BBMP, BDA, Real Estate Developers and almost everyone they can remember at that point in time to shift the blame from their own shoulders. We, the citizens, are responsible for all the pollution and congestion more than our governments.
The Odd/Even rule, as most people feel, is impractical. We should, instead, look at having exhorbitant parking charges and CBD (Central Business District) congestion charges. When someone takes a car out to office or for window shopping all for him/herself, that person should end up spending more than half of what s/he earns on that particular day. That will push many to ditch their cars. If someone “carpools”, then s/he should be waived off the parking charges.
Unfortunately, our agencies and governments always jump to ban stuff. Banning something is not a solution. Banning diesel vehicles will not solve the problem because Delhi has 65 lakh two wheelers and at least 12 lakh petrol cars. People will anyhow buy cars. If not diesel, they’ll buy petrol cars. And then? More congestion. More congestion leads to more traffic jams and that leads to more fuel burning each day.
A city should always look at cutting down the number of people traversing its lengths and breadths. Then the city should look at cutting down the number people who travel in their own personal vehicles every single day to their workplaces. Cities should encourage offices to promote “Working from Home” policies. Trucks should be prevented from entering the city. A good infrastructure to handle these trucks should be developed on the outskirts so that the goods are unladen and shifted to smaller commercial vehicles.
There’s a lot that can be done to improve the situations in our cities. Unfortunately, retards occupy the chairs that matter and the people who have solutions do nothing but rant on social media. And that includes me, although, only to some extent.