The level of pollution in many Indian cities, especially Delhi, has shot up in such a way that it has become untenable for the people to live in them. Reports say that the number of children who are developing respiratory illnesses in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) has gone up drastically and the doctors started advising them to leave Delhi if they want to regain their health. This is indeed an alarming situation.
A few days ago the Delhi high court observed that the city of Delhi has become a virtual gas chamber, and directed the central and state governments to come up with a comprehensive action plan to bring the pollution levels under control. It is reported that the two major causes of air pollution in Delhi were dust particles and the vehicular emissions. The Delhi Government, after the high court’s intervention, plunged into action and announced a slew of measures to combat the pollution. The foremost among them is ‘odd/even’ number formula for cars. According to the formula, cars with license plates ending in even, odd numbers will be allowed to ply on alternate days.
Private vehicles, especially cars, not only occupy a lot of road space but also pollute a lot. If we closely observe the number of cars on Indian roads, and the number of people who travel in those cars, it becomes very clear that cars occupy disproportionately large space of the roads and also carry very less number of people. In most of the cars, only the driver, who happens to be the owner of the car, is seen. The successive governments, instead of promoting public transportation, promoted car manufacturing companies. With the increase in incomes, people prefer to buy more and more cars, that too diesel powered cars which comply with poor emission standards.
The car culture in India is a result of aping the western style of consumerism and conspicuous consumption, which is not at all suitable for us. In India, the roads are too narrow and full of potholes. Even the government doesn’t show much interest in the expansion of the road infrastructure. The population explosion and the resultant increase in the number of vehicles that hit the roads had put enormous pressure on Indian roads. The ever increasing number of private vehicles, especially cars, are causing traffic congestions, pollution and accidents. It is high time that India took note of the unsustainability of promoting cars and other private vehicles, and start promoting a robust and viable public transportation system, in which all the people, irrespective of their socio-economic status, can travel together safely and comfortably. Let us hope that the measures taken by the Delhi Government will prove to be the first step, which will lead us towards a clean, affordable and safe public transportation system.