Monday December 10, 2018

Rajiv Kakria’s letter to Delhi CM on odd even formula and curbing pollution

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Mr Rajiv Kakria is a well know civic activist. In this letter to Delhi Chief Minister Mr Arvind Kejriwal, he takes a holistic look at the odd even formula and how to- at the same time- not ignore the other causative factors that result in pollution.

February 6, 2016

Dear Mr Kejriwal,

When Columbus set out in search of India, he ended up discovering America. ODD / EVEN challenge too has ended up discovering additional benefits.

While curbing pollution was the stated purpose of the ODD / EVEN Formula, many more benefits have accrued. App Based Pooling of Cars and Taxies will lead to 30% to 70% household savings on fuel. Less congestion on roads will surely lead to many Health benefits.

There are calls for extending the experiment and look to make it permanent. I too believe that the GOOD HABITS CULTIVATED during the fortnight long experiment should not be wasted and the Odd / Even Formula should be implemented periodically.

The success of the Program should not be taken for Granted: We need to analyze what REALLY MADE IT SUCCESSFUL? 

  1. CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS – Private Cars ferrying children to schools were off the roads, as were the teachers driving to work. The additional buses added to the Fleet for Public were School Buses.
  2. EXEMPTIONS TO TWO-WHEELERS AND WOMEN – The Public Transport would not have been able to take the additional load nor does the Police evoke confidence of security to women.
  3. PUBLIC SUPPORT – Citizens were willing to support as they realise the gravity of the problem and knew the inconvenience was for a short spell of 15 days, effectively 6-7 days.
  4. CIVIL DEFENCE VOLUNTEERS AND CHILDREN – The Government Machinery is woefully inadequate and the efforts of volunteers must be applauded but cannot be relied in the long term.
  5. SDM’S AND TRANSPORT OFFICIALS HELPED THE POLICE – The very fact that more fines were imposed by SDMs and not the Police, shows that additional officials on the roads contributed in a big way, which may not be the case on a regular basis, as they have other duties to perform.

The way Forward:  PREPARE A THREE YEAR CIVIC ROADMAP (Short, Medium and Long Term), with clear deadlines with the help of Data Collected and Additional Surveys:-

 SHORT TERM Measures:

  1. DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN DYNAMIC AND DEAD PARKING – Discourage people who use cars for Home-Office-Home travel, turning scarce Parking Space unproductive (Dead) for 8-14 hours. Shoppers and Visitors to offices for meetings etc occupy Parking Space (Dynamic) for a limited period of time and the same space is utilised multiple times, giving a fillip to Business. DEAD PARKING should be discouraged and made prohibitive. DYNAMIC PARKING Rates should be of 15 Minute Pulse, to encourage people to conclude business promptly and save money.
  2. PARKING FEE BASED ON SIZE OF CAR – To encourage the use of small cars Parking Fee should be charged based on length of the car, as one BMW occupies twice as much space as an i10 car.
  3. INTRODUCE POINT TO POINT AC CHARTERED/SHUTTLE BUSSES – Care should be taken that Office goers are not inconvenienced and transport BEFITTING THEIR STATURE be made available at reasonable rates. People use Personal Transport out of compulsion due to lack of COMFORTABLE, SAFE & SURE TRANSPORT.
  4. STOP FLEECING BY AUTO/ TAXIS AND SURGE PRICING BY UBER / OLA: Autos have been notorious for Refusals and Overcharging. Now Uber and Ola are also fleecing hapless commuters, charging 1.5X to 3.9X SURGE PRICING. If citizens can be fined Rs. 2000/- then Service providers should also be penalised for Malpractice. INTRODUCE UNIFORM PRICING.
  5. ENFORCE LANE DISCIPLINE – Traffic Police should be instructed to enforce Lane Discipline and man Traffic Lights instead of hiding behind trees to net offenders and pocket bribes.
  6. REMOVE BOTTLE NECKS ON ROADS – Potholes; Encroachments/Vendors; Parking on Roads; Religious Places; Trees; Defunct Poles etc. create congestion and slows the traffic.

MEDIUM TERM Measures:

  1. CREATE HALTING ZONES FOR AUTOS, GRAMIN SEVAS, TAXIS ETC Traffic Jams are often noticed near Bus Stops/Metro Stations, Traffic Signals, Market/Hospital Entrances, Street Corners etc as these modes of transport bunch up at such spots usurping one or more lanes.
  2. IMPROVE LAST MILE CONNECTIVITY  – This proposal has been in the Pipeline for so long that it seems like a Pipedream, surely it is not as difficult as it seems.
  3. PUT THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE – Multiple modes of Public Transport adhering to a strict timetable be introduced in consultation with experts.
  4. CREATE SUBWAYS AND PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS Lack of pedestrian facilities make the roads dangerous and are the cause for traffic snarls, when people give up private transport there will be a manifold increase in Pedestrian Traffic, so this aspect MUST GET PRIORITY.
  5. INSTALL NUMBER PLATE READING CCTVS – E-Chalaan traffic offenders and Trucks who enter the city before Entry Hours (which is Rampant).

 LONG TERM Measures:

  1. IMPROVE ROAD ENGINEERING AND POSITIONING OF BUS STOPS – Go anywhere in Delhi, most traffic jams occur at the start and end of a Flyover, due to merging traffic and positioning of bus stops close to the Flyover.
  2. EXPEDITE COURT CASES FOR ROAD WIDENING Ring Road at Nariana is a good example of what can be achieved by acquiring land for road widening …… there are many such points all over Delhi that are stuck in Court Cases.
  3. BAN PURCHASE OF VEHICLE (PRIVATE OR COMMERCIAL) WITHOUT PROOF OF PARKING SPACE Introduce differential Fee Structure for parking on Public Land with a percentage increase for 2nd, 3rd, 4th Vehicle Registered per Dwelling Unit instead of per family member. THE RECENT HIGH COURT RULING RESTRICTING ONE PARKING SLOT PER DWELLING UNIT IS WORTH EMULATING FOR EQUITABLE USE OF PUBLIC SPACES. Fleet owners should create own Parking Zones instead of using up public spaces.
  4. INTRODUCE FIRST CLASS COMPARTMENTS ON METRO – Airlines, Trains, Busses, Mumbai Suburban all have 1st Class compartments.

I have restricted my suggestions to Road Congestion Solutions. Once the Short and Medium Term targets are met, then the exemptions given to Women and Two Wheelers can be withdrawn. Till then ODD / EVEN Formula should be imposed during school vacations or every alternate month for one week, to keep the momentum going.

I congratulate you on the success of the first experiment and for constantly being open to suggestions. Finally, pollution too will be curbed through collective effort and going after THE REAL POLLUTERS, ie, Dust, Trucks, Generators, Waste Burning, etc.

Warm Regards,

Rajiv Kakria

New Delhi

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Copyright 2016 NewsGram

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Air Pollution Worsens In Western Balkan Cities

Activists say the funds allocated are insufficient and that the government's response is inadequate.

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Smog, Air pollution
General view of the city as smog blankets Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. VOA

When winter arrives in the Western Balkans, it is not unusual for dense smog to envelop its cities, making it hard to breathe and impairing visibility. But this year, air pollution levels are among the highest in the world and public anger is on the rise.

In recent days, the Bosnian, Macedonian and Kosovar capitals topped the charts of the world’s most polluted cities as the smog intensified due to heavy traffic, excessive use of coal, poor spatial planning and solid fuel based heating.

The air quality index measured by the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo hit 383 on Tuesday, a level identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as hazardous to health and almost 10 times the average. In Pristina, the index registered 415 on Monday night and marked air quality in several Macedonian towns as very poor.

“This is all the result of a situation in which political elites treat the city as a construction plot which should be occupied at all costs rather than a place where people live,” Anes Podic of Sarajevo’s Eko Akcija environmental group said.

global warming, air pollution, Asia
The sun is seen through evening air pollution, Feb. 8, 2018. VOA

“You can feel how bad the air smells even inside the car or home,” said a taxi driver Mirsad Pobric.

According to the WHO, pollution costs Bosnia the equivalent of more than a fifth of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) every year — around $3.9 billion — in lost work and school days, healthcare and fuel costs.

Macedonia loses an equivalent of 3.2 percent of GDP a year to pollution, the World Bank said in a report, more than$360 million a year.

As a way of bringing more attention to the issue, the Embassy of Sweden has been using red lighting on its facade in central Sarajevo to reflect air quality each day. The deeper the red, the worse the pollution.

According to the WHO, 230 Bosnians die of air pollution per 100,000 citizens a year, compared to 0.4 in Sweden. The World Bank estimates that in Macedonia there are 1,350 deaths related to air pollution per year.

Air pollution
Sweden has launched a four-year project in Bosnia that will bring together experts from its Environmental Protection Agency .Wikimedia Commons

“Pollution is killing people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, therefore something really needs to be done,” Swedish Ambassador Anders Hagelberg told Reuters.

As part of efforts to combat the issue, Sweden has launched a four-year project in Bosnia that will bring together experts from its Environmental Protection Agency and local hydro-meteorological agencies and governments.

The aim of the program is to help improve air quality monitoring but also to bring more investment into energy efficiency.

Also Read: U.N. Chief Warns The World About Not Doing Enough To Prevent Climate Change

Macedonia has launched its own program to combat air pollution to which the government allocated 1.6 million euros ($1.83 million) in next year’s budget. It aims to halve Skopje’s air pollution within two years by reducing taxes for central heating, restricting traffic and introducing stricter control of industrial emissions.

Activists say the funds allocated are insufficient and that the government’s response is inadequate. (VOA)