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Articles

Private Cars & Pollution in Delhi
Author T K Malhotra, President

In Delhi, the automobile and its proponents are major sources of air and noise pollution. The rate at which vehicles are being added to Delhi roads, this man-made machine may one day paralyse our mobility leaving us no surface to move on!

Just meet with materialistic comforts, people seem to have become oblivious of their basic necessity and right to breathe clean air for survival. In or fast growing cities, breathing fresh air is becoming a luxury in India today.

Despite our failure to curb the traffic chaos and the pollution caused by idling vehicles in a traffic jam, we have not yet found a mechanism to limit new vehicles on roads every passing day. We have not yet learnt to discover a balance by which to bring people and their automobiles back into some semblance of harmony. The bulk of vehicles produced in the country still come to the cities in Northern India. Delhi has more vehicles than the number put together in the three metropolitan cities of Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.

Delhi takes the major share of three to four hundred cars added to the roads, which are already shrinking inch by inch each day. The rate of vehicles per road kilometer, which used to be 31 in the 80's has gone up far too high.

The viable solution to down scale the level of existing vehicular pollution is to freeze the total number of vehicles for the entire NCT of Delhi.
· A Quota System can be devised based on logistics related with the present road space and future expansions.
· The Vehicle life can be fixed at ten years of life. As old vehicles are phased out, new vehicles in corresponding number be allowed to be registered.
· The vacancies be first filled in by offering opportunities to the owners of phased out, old vehicles.
· Remaining vacancies be filled in by allotment to the new owners through a public auction.
· Maximum two cars be allowed per family of 4 to 6 persons on normal quota basis. Beyond which any allotment be made only through public auction.
· A review to evaluate new expansion in road space be undertaken every six months. Fresh allotments be made in appropriate segment of vehicles to match the added road space.
· Motorists entering the designated areas between the specified hours should be required to pay an additional fee.

The system, will ultimately force the people to opt for public transport and car-pools and to use their cars when absolutely unavoidable.

There should be an on-going process to upgrade vehicle technology to incorporate hundred percent safety features. At the same time making public transport vehicles easily accessible with more passenger-oriented features is the need of the day.

The Auto Fuel Policy phasing private vehicle to Euro IV norms by 2010 should be implemented accordingly. Looking at how our society is cultured, it may not be feasible to implement the policy earlier than that period.

AAUI members are well informed and are conscious about ills of pollution levels. Regular vehicle pollution tests conducted by AAUI at the invitation of Residents Welfare Association in more than forty colo9nies is an ample proof that they want to live in a healthy environment.

A car owner does not feel secure on the roads today. Hijacking, road rage and related element of risks are deterrent to car pools. Allowing even-odd number cars to ply on alternative days was the thought, which the Delhi government had tried to implement a decade ago. Unfortunately, it did not succeed. I do not think it is practical either.