The national Capital – Delhi- belongs to the nation and Delhiites are not its sole custodian. But Delhi suffers for Tughlaqs time to time. The latest Tughlaqi decision of illegal and illogical odd-even road rationing is crippling trade, business, education, government work and all other activities.
The BSE sensex fall for five consecutive session coincides with Delhi’s odd-even. As Delhi markets do less business, ask anyone in core biz areas he would vouch for it, it creates a feeling across the country that India is once again becoming a difficult place to do business. Prime minister Narendra Modi’s efforts for easing business has got into a literal road block.
People across the country, even those living in national capital region (NCR) wonder how a handful of people can bar 120 crore “outsiders” from entering Delhi. They come to visit the most sought after AIIMS, Apollo, Spine Injuries, Liver & Biliary diseases, other specialized hospitals, institutions, offices, Supreme Court and Parliament. They come for visas, travelling abroad, doing business, wholesale trading, lobbying, legislation and many more at the hub of activity.
Can anyone have the right to trample on the constitutional guarantee to move freely? The odd-even rule raises serious questions about the whimsical way state power is deployed. The Motor Vehicle Act allows 24x7x365 day plying. It prevents Delhi police from levying Rs 2000 illegal fine, which they showed as “charity” during phase one in January. They collected Rs 1.82 crore from 9140 illegal challans.
Many people moving with sick persons are being hounded by the police and so-called civil defence AAP volunteers. Parents cannot drop their children to schools and many office-goers give their office a slip. The taxis move on “surge pricing” – they charge three times more. Is it a conspiracy to hit productivity, jeopardize development process and non-creation of jobs?
Rightfully many now are realizing the folly of the so-called statehood of Delhi. The diarchy had seen problems earlier too but now it has reached the heights. In 1956, Delhi was made a union territory having seen the odds during its initial statehood.
The 69th amendment of the Constitution gave it a special status in 1993. The amendment introduced a system of diarchy. Since organized political parties held sway, despite problems they avoided a confrontation with the Centre. The new riff-raff anarchic system, as its chief minister himself has repeatedly boasted to be, has brought Delhi to a halt.
It is time to revert Delhi back to union territory and revive the system of chief executive councilor. Delhi government literally is nothing but that. Yes, it has enormous powers to swindle public money as was seen in raising publicity budget from Rs 26 crore in 2014 to Rs 526 crore in 2015. Delhi is flooded with one person’s hoarding. Nation’s loss is one person’s gain.
It has not brought down pollution, the supposed avowed aim. It did not do during the first phase in January either, when schools were forced shut for 15 days. There is no data to suggest that the odd-even scheme has brought down vehicular pollution in Delhi, the Central Pollution Control Board told the national green tribunal (NGT) on April 21, 2016. It said, “Fluctuations in PM10 and PM2.5 are due to the weather and change in wind patterns. Prima facie, there is no data to suggest the odd-even scheme has any impact on decrease in vehicular pollution.”
The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri) said on April 21 that fluctuating pollution level is primarily due to changing wind speeds and that only a detailed analysis could ascertain the actual impact of the road-rationing scheme on air pollution.
In reality, there is no less traffic congestion. It crawls all over as on any other day. The odd-even has lead to overcrowding of metro trains and chaos at Delhi’s borders. A cracker blast at any metro station these days can kill thousands. Security is severely impaired. The promised buses are nowhere to be seen though reports say that during January such “buses” caused losses of about Rs 5,000 crore to DTC. Who got it?
The courts that expressed concern over Delhi’s pollution needs to understand the geographical conditions that cause seasonal fluctuations in air quality as CPCB has pointed out. Some of the court-driven restrictions on sale and registration of diesel cars, renewal of well-maintained private vehicles has led to severe misery of the vehicle owners, who buy a vehicle not for fun but because of compulsion.
The courts and NGT must realize that passing utopian orders do not solve problems. It convolutes the market and living conditions. If they are so concerned about diesel vehicles, which manufacturers say are Euro IV compliant and cause least pollution, they should ban its production. But allowing its manufacturing and banning its sale, resale, registration and re-registration of 15-year old vehicles are against the law and ethics.
Such constrictions should immediately be removed so that the business and people thrive and do not live under the fear of law enforcement agencies. A discreet enquiry would find out how much black money such impractical orders are generating. Since the Delhi ministers, executive, tribunal and judicial officials move on official vehicles they possibly do not realize the sufferings of the common man.
Any person would prefer to travel by public transport. Is there any? Not travelling by public transport does not make one “elite” as many tend to say. Driving a vehcile costs more, fatigues more but there is no alternative. Let us say good-bye to utopian experiments at public sorry national cost.
Organisations like NGT should do better jobs than banning vehicles – new or 15 year-olds. If they can allow Delhi government to run 15 year-old ramshackle buses to ply as “paryavaran buses”, they cannot impose ban on people’s vehicles. Let Delhi and the nation move on path to progress.
The progress would definitely be hampered if Delhi remains a state and have control of diversified authorities – Centre, Lt Governor, state government and municipal corporations. This needs serious consideration and not politicking. Delhi belongs to India and nobody can impose an order that tramples the right of citizens. Let its statehood be cancelled by repealing the 69th amendment. None but the nation has to gain.