Decongesting Delhi no joyride

Implementing congestion charges may need declogging at other ends first


Shivani Chaturvedi | December 24, 2010

While Delhi readies new deterrents to private motorised traffic on city roads, how much is it really geared to take on the demands on public transport that will arise as a result? How aptly will it address issues of technology and logistics?

The city is planning to bring in congestion charges that will tax vehicles plying on roads during peak traffic hours of the day. It might prove effective, as envisaged by the transport department but it is going to cause a spike in the usage of public transport. Recently having phased out the Blueline buses, Delhi is already staggering under the pressure on its public transport.

Besides, the city needs an updated database of car-owners in the city. In the absence of one, the pay-for-congestion measure runs the risk of failing. "Under the Motor Vehicles Act there is no provision of penalty. If a person changes his/her residence, he/she doesn't take pains to get the address changed or record ownership details in case of a sale, the person won't be penalised," a senior tarnsport officer in the city rued. These lapses are bound to make accurate billing and payment difficult.

Further, the entire system needs will be hinged on technology. Central London, where a similar system is in place, uses an automatic charging and payment gateway. Technology is used to record time of entry, exit, compute congestion charges and identify vehicle owners for accurate billing. Automatic number plate reader (ANPR) is used to identify the vehicle-owner.

Apart from all this, the larger question of parking space still remains. With urban space at a premium, is there really space uniformly across the city to arrange for parking the dormant vehicles?

Even the transport authorities anticipate such hurdles. "Unless these things are worked out, there will be strong opposition from the public over the charges," the officer said.

“Nowhere in Asia there is a system of congestion charge. We are thinking of going for a detailed study to explore feasibility of such charge in Delhi,” said R K Verma commissioner Delhi transport department. The study hasn’t started yet and it will take eight to ten months to complete the study, Verma added.



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