Change.org petition by: Sriram Iyer
Friends, Delhians, countrymen, lend me your ears….
There is a new ‘pagla Tughlak’ ruling Delhi: ‘Kejriwal – the crazy fella’. Let us hope other cities don’t blindly adopt his well intentioned but ludicrous rule. Here’s why this rule will do nothing to reduce pollution but will make it worse: Those who may begin to take public transportation, as a result of this rule will soon realize its inadequacies in connectivity, safety or comfort and will constantly be looking for alternates: the less fortunate will resort to 2-wheelers (16 times more polluting than a car and auto-rickshaws (which are several times worse than 2 wheelers, while those who can afford it will take taxis or if they have an additional parking space – will buy a second car. All of these alternates will serve to increase pollution.
We haven’t even begun to consider other impacts such as increased corruption, police harassment, fake license plates (and the resultant complications in accidents or crime), the loss of productivity, the inconvenience and stress of restricted freedom of movement.
Not only does this silly rule defeat the original purpose, it places the additional cost burden and social impacts on the common man without commensurate benefits that can be expected of such broad and painful trade-offs.
There are other high impact and less painful solutions: 1. Improving emission standards and the inspection and enforcement (especially for older vehicles, trucks, auto-rickshaws, roadside bonfires, wood stoves, burning of waste and factories); 2. Setting taxes based on emission level of the vehicles and factories and cutting import duties for electric vehicles; 3. Improve fuel standards; 4. Increase taxes on fuel; 5. Implement congestion pricing; 6. Rewrite development control regulations to recreate better cities with proper water supply and sewage handling infrastructure for high density living with more high rise buildings where commercial, recreation and living spaces in close proximity to each other to minimize commuting distance, save time and increase productivity for everyone.
The best way to obtain behaviour modification from the populace is a carrot and stick approach – financial incentives and disincentives can actually tackle and solve this immense problem of pollution. It would also be wise to avoid measures that make for an unhappy and angry electorate – which would bust all progress at the next balloting.
We must, above all judiciously and without wastage or theft, use the Government’s already enormous tax revenue and the increased revenue from the above measures to implement modern urban planning and to subsidize and improve the frequency, connectivity, comfort and safety of public transportation systems.
I am sure if the right minds are brought together we can come up with a million other great ideas but let us come together and campaign to drop this odd ‘odd-even’ rule.
PS: Delhi – as the National Capital – please don’t mess this up as other cities and equally uninformed CMs are looking up to you and will grab the chance to implement any short sighted short cuts.
PPS: Please share this post as far and wide as you can and sign the change.org petition: My Masters degree in Transportation Engineering had nothing to do with the above common sense suggestions that are on the lips of every Indian watching Kejriwal’s mindless farce play out.