In the wake of Delhi government’s decision to take stringent measures to curb pollution in Delhi, we asked some of the Delhi folks to respond to this decision. While the decision has been supported and opposed in equal measure, we do believe that the problem of pollution in Delhi masks a deeper problem: pathetic public transport system. Lack of adequate public transport is not a problem for Delhi alone; almost all Indian cities suffer from the lack of a decent public transport system. We hope the question of pollution would ultimately draw the attention of our governments and city-planners to install a decent, workable, and affordable public transport system.
Read the responses of some of the Delhi residents:
Curator & Art Writer
The only option ahead is to leave Delhi as the pollution level has aggravated to lethal levels. No remedy is possible as the rich and the ruling class’ craving for more development, more cars, and more production, coupled with an insatiable desire to consume, does not end. They do not realise the exploitation of the working class in this greed. It is the poor who are the worst sufferers of this disaster. The rich have the means to adapt and move on.
Mindless constructions are permitted everywhere; large scale factories and industrial units operate as if they are in the 50s emitting heavy fumes of chemical smoke. An unprecedented rise in the number of vehicles and absence of vision in the planning and development of this city has led to this condition.
This is the death of Delhi!
Author & Publisher
Odd-even numbers! Now, doesn’t that sound like the name of the game cardsharps play? Is that what Mr Kejriwal is doing – playing poker?
First, he has a full hand and calls out his bets: impose curbs on operation of private cars on Delhi roads based on odd and even registration number plates. Depending on the odd or even last digit on the plate, vehicles will ply on alternate days.
Then, at the rate of one per day, he reveals his cards, divulging what a losing hand he holds.
First day: emergency services exempted, including doctors on call (how they will prove they are on call is anybody’s guess).
Second day: women drivers and passengers exempted.
Third day: schools force-closed between 1 and 15 Jan so that parents don’t drive kids to school and school buses can be commandeered to the city’s fleet.
Besides, Kejri is constantly reminding us on the FM Radio, that this endeavour, idea or whatever of his, is only a trial. And he takes pains to add, if Delhi’s citizens pronounce just once that it doesn’t work, he will trash it, dump it, and make it a goner. Slippery as an eel, our Kejri, keeping doors open for a quick exit.
Meanwhile, the pugnacious Delhi Police fell into his trap by shouting red in the face; they were not consulted, not enough force, stopping incorrect numbered vehicles will cause jams, the idea simply will not work. It just proves what a polished politician our plebeian Chief Minister has turned into. And all the while, statistics have proved that cars contribute less than 10% of the particulate matter that pollute the city.
As expected, the Delhi male drivers’ creativity is exploding into overdrive.
Dear Girls, please drive us to work, gym, club, movie, and mall. Wow! What a pick-up line! Husbands have decided to become passengers in burqa while wives drive. My husband has planned to get his car towed to the Delhi border and then zoom off to his Gurgaon workplace.
All in all, I must give Kejri the credit of flying high the flag of emancipated womanhood, though unintentionally, even if his grand scheme seems destined to bite the dust even before the first odd-numbered car coughs and wheezes on Delhi’s smoggy roads in the dawn chill of New Year’s Day.
Middle School Teacher, Poet & Cyclist
I’ve been in Delhi for a decade now, and I love the city. But the government monitoring data and an armload of studies make it clear that our air has been a major public health threat, at least since 2010. I’ve read extensively on the subject and there are many things that go into this problem. In addition to vehicular emissions, significant sources of pollution include construction and related industries, coal-fired electricity generation, road dust (more in hot dry months), and biomass burning.
I don’t know if the odd-even-formula is the best long-term solution. But in the short run, it makes sense for two reasons. First, along with limiting unnecessary truck travel at night, it’s the fastest way to make an impact during the winter months, when the crisis is worse due to climactic factors. Second, it may well have a larger than expected impact, because vehicles produce a lot more pollution when they are idling for hours in traffic – and cars are the main source of our bad traffic.
It won’t be easy, but we need to do something. And as a regular cycle and public transportation commuter, I’m also hopeful that the odd-even scheme will force the government to make long-overdue improvements to our bus and cycle infrastructure.
Abhimanyu Kumar Singh
Journalist & Editor
There is suddenly a lot of talk about pollution in Delhi. To be honest, I don’t feel it so much. And I don’t really care.
There are many other issues in Delhi. People who live on the outskirts of the city – like Jehangirpuri, Seelampur and others – face problems like poor schooling for their kids, lack of health services and transportation etc. On a reporting trip recently to Sunder Nagari, another such working class area from where the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal started his activism, I found shit lying unwashed in schools. Open drains and garbage strewn all over the streets in these areas are a common sight.
I’d say that it is at the moment largely an elite concern, this great hullabaloo over pollution. Yes, there was some smog lately but the winds seem to have cleared it. It is a growing city and there is a lot of industrial activity on its peripheries. The best way to check pollution would be to strictly enforce checks at these factories so that the environment remains clean.
As far as the odd-even formula is concerned, I can’t say whether it will work or not. Let it be implemented first. But I wonder if it was really necessary.
<If you would like to share your experience/concern about Delhi Pollution and the Odd-Even-Formula, write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org>
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