Delhi Govt’s ambitious plans to curb air pollution by dividing odd and even numbered vehicles to ply in the National Capital Region on alternate days have triggered a debate across the country. Many cities across the world have tried to come out with plans to limit vehicular traffic - known examples include London, La Paz, San Jose, Honduras and Quito. ‘Express’ Debate this week is on the question whether some of our cities like Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram are congested enough to have such curbs introduced, sooner than later
Anshika Sharma, email
The Delhi Government is on an ambitious plan to stem the dangerously high levels of pollution by dividing private vehicles with odd and even registration numbers to ply on odd and even dates. In my opinion, this is not the right way to curb pollution. Suppose in a house, there is a car with an even number and as the first day is kept for vehicles with even numbers, how will the vehicle owner travel the second day? Sometimes people will try to buy two or more vehicles with different numbers like even and odd. In this manner, the number of vehicles will increase which in turn will increase air pollution. Some suggestions. Choose to walk or cycle instead of driving at least for short distance travels. Governments must encourage people to use public transport system instead of private cars. Vehicle users must obey speed limit and go for fuel-efficient vehicles. As an extreme step, governments should allow only eco-friendly vehicles to curb pollution.
GAJANAN KAMATH, Class IX student, Kannur
What is the point in rising affluence if the quality of our life is plummeting? What is the point I owning more or better cars if it takes an hour or more to travel 10 km? The sooner we prepare a blueprint to tackle this menace called traffic congestion the better will we be morally obliged to our future generations. Let Kerala show the way with active participation of its people and suggestions from the experts. Respiratory ailments are increasing by the day, a major reason being vehicular pollution. To put in place any plans of vehicular curbs, the first and the foremost thing any government can do is to upgrade and improve the public transport system.
C P Karunakaran Pillai,Mallappally
The carbon footprint of Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram is not as dirty as New Delhi. Yet, it is a grave concern to the people. The number of registered vehicles in these cities is growing alarmingly. Taking a leaf out of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s book, the authorities of our cities should take some drastic but firm steps without any further delay. They should make a request to the owners of automobiles in and around these cities to leave their vehicles home at least two days a week and use public transport instead to reach office or other places. There is enough room to accommodate six or seven people in a spacious car which is driven by a person. Such big vehicles can be replaced by small fuel- efficient and environment-friendly ones. A real breakthrough in clean energy solutions is the need of the hour.
Priyanka Nair N A, Kozhenchery
Air pollution due to heavy traffic is crucial in cities like Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram. Ambient air quality monitoring in these cities has shown that there is a rise in the amount of vehicular pollutants and in the level of traffic noise beyond the permissible limits. Consequently, several cases of pulmonary ailments, cardiovascular diseases etc have been reported from these places. So it is essential for the state government to introduce certain traffic restraint policies, sooner than later. Some form of road space rationing, like the one to be embarked on in Delhi shortly, will obviously purify the air and ease traffic congestion. Some simple measures to curb vehicular pollution like minimising the use of private vehicles by choosing public transport, driving vehicles within the speed limit, turning the engines off at one’s own responsibility while waiting at signals etc. can be implemented in our cities with instantaneous effect.
SASEENDRAN A, KANNUR
The Delhi Government’s decision to introduce odd and even numbered vehicles on alternative days is only a short-term measure. There will be a tendency for persons having an odd number car to buy one more car with an even number. This will actually cause more pollution. Some of the measures we can adopt in Kerala includes, plan satellite townships for all the municipal corporations, plan and implement enough cycle tracks and pedestrian ways radiating from different parts of the city to the heart of the cities. If these pedestrian paths are shortest and are covered on both sides with trees for shade, employees and working community will use and avoid their cars to a certain extent. If we plan now, we can expect a pollution-free and congestion free cities after 10 years. Otherwise we may also have to introduce measures that are being taken by the Delhi Government.
Dr P S Shajahan, Govt TD Medical College, Alappuzha
Exposure to air pollutants is beyond the control of individuals and requires action by public authorities. Strict measures to monitor industrial emissions, control of motor vehicle emissions by updating permissible amounts of various toxic agents, promoting public transport system etc will help curb growing menace of air pollution. Measures such as walking or bicycling to travel short distances instead of using a bike or car and planting trees will help reduce air pollution. The decision of the Delhi Government to restrict motor vehicles is to be lauded. It is high time we thought in this direction as many of our cities are highly polluted by heavy vehicular traffic.
Kurian Mathew, New Jersey
There is heavy traffic congestion in big cities as well as in the small towns of Kerala. The reasons are inadequate roads and the huge vehicle population. The major reasons for this huge increase in vehicle population are the inefficiency of public transport, the absence of mass rapid transport systems in cities and the Keralites’ penchant for acquiring the latest car. All these factors have made road safety a matter of major concern. It is high time Kerala introduced traffic curbs in cities like Kochi, Tvm and Kozhikode. Simultaneous steps should also be taken to improve the public transport system and the condition of roads without which people will not welcome curbs on private vehicles.
Suresh Babu N C, Aluva
The Delhi Government’s recent proposal to control vehicular traffic on roads, with a view to curb air pollution, is definitely an appreciable decision. However, when it is in practice, there should be a mechanism in place to compensate traffic challenges being faced by general public, in metro cities like Delhi or Mumbai. Even in cities in Kerala, this should not be completely feasible. The authorities should at least study the problems being faced by general public when introducing a major change in this manner. Instead, as an initial step, the government and the Motor Vehicles Dept can think of controlling private vehicles’ registration in each state. They can, on experimental basis, not to give permit to private vehicles to persons if they already own a vehicle. Let the state government, with the support of Central Government, come up with a nature friendly, affordable rail and water transport system to reduce pollution from motor vehicles.
Eappen Elias, T’Puram
The Delhi Government’s plan to curb air pollution by dividing odd and even number vehicles to ply in the road can be introduced in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. This can help reduce the present traffic congestion, accidents as well as curbing air pollution. Public transport system should be strengthened and car pooling system should be encouraged. Last month, when I visited Beijing, I saw this and it is effectively working there. Being a highly literate state, we should set forth examples for others.
E SETHURAMALINGAM, Kollam
We need Delhi-model traffic curbs. A 2005 report says that vehicular emission and noise pollution from automobiles are high in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. Insufficient road capacity and rude and aggressive drivers worsen things. As dutiful citizens, we should avoid being cause for traffic congestion and contribute to community ensuring comfortable journeys and clean environment. When travelling around, we may choose buses or trains shunning own cars. It helps minimise environmental damage caused by excessive vehicular dependence occupying carriageways for parking. Developed countries follow mass transit and active transportation faster, cheaper, relaxing and situation-easing. Making cars off roads and being the most cost-effective means of transportation for short distances, active transportation like walking, jogging, riding a bicycle, reduces congestion and pollution. An easy way to improve health, cut gas bill and save environment. Car pool may be considered. But ‘No-run’ ban based on registration numbers, would see public suffer during exigencies and emergencies.
Dr Harimohan, Brunei Darussalam
Traffic crisis in all major cities of the world is a reality even in those with excellent infrastructure like Singapore, Dubai, New York and London. Cities in Kerala are known for their narrow, potholed roads and they are ill-planned, ill-built with protrusions by electric wires, posts and unauthorised boards. The solution is that public transportation should be encouraged and streamlined. The advent of metro in Kochi will make a difference. The odd-even numbers have a disadvantage in that the vehicle owners in an emergency may be handicapped by the wrong day for their vehicle. Water transport should come up in a big way as all three cities have possibilities especially Kochi. Private companies and merchant establishments should encourage their employees pool their vehicle. Staggering of school, office times and encouragement of shifts will also go some way in reducing traffic.
Pious Alummoottil, Udayamperoor
Our major cities, especially Kochi, is a most congested and air polluted city in Kerala due to high density of vehicular traffic. We have to do something to curb this menace. The Delhi Government has proposed a new initiative. This may sometimes boomerang as capable persons may buy two or more vehicles one with even number and another with odd number. Before attempting for curbs, we may look at the reasons for pollution. Our main problems are narrow roads, non-maintenance of interior roads, roadsides are not pedestrian friendly, water channels are not slabbed, lack of road maintenance, undisciplined parking, congested bell-mouths, non-existence of left free traffic etc. Due to this, the vehicles are plying very slowly which generates air pollution. Introduction of suburban train, banning of age old vehicles to city, AC buses in city, introduction of auto/two wheeler free days/roads as an experiment etc will help reduce pollution.
NARAYANASWAMY RAMAN, PARALI
The ever-increasing vehicular population and the resultant growth in traffic congestion/air pollution are the most prevalent and vexing characteristics associated with our major cities. The only viable solution to this problem is the drastic reduction in the number of vehicles on the roads in a phased and systematic manner by introducing an efficient public transport system that can accommodate present and future population demand. What we need is a bold licensing system that will make owning a vehicle an extremely expensive affair, forcing people to look for alternative modes of transport. Above all, a collective political will and a corruption-free administration comprising people with proactive mindset that looks to solve the problem instead of dwelling on it, is the need of the hour.
Shaj Koodathil, Mahe
Traffic bottleneck has become a common sight on the roads of major cities in Kerala. The city dwellers are bearing the brunt of it. The pioneering movement of the Delhi government to reduce the congestion and to curb air pollution will garner the plaudits. The same situation prevailed in major cities of our state. Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram are badly hit by traffic congestion. If the new scheme of the Delhi Government is found feasible and viable, it should be implemented.
The situation wherein carbon footprint is increasing at an alarming rate is a matter of concern, not only for the big metros but also for our own cities as well as other parts of the state. However, the ambitious plan of the Delhi Government to curb the high level of pollution by dividing private vehicles with odd and even registration numbers to ply on odd and even dates has not gone well with many of the readers who expressed their disagreement in a logical manner. We at ‘Express’ feel that various steps, including keeping away motor vehicles for short-distance travels and encouraging the use of public transport system, are needed, if all of us are serious about the effort