Cheap thrill

  • 29/11/2007

a sudden spurt in public discussion in Delhi over worsening air quality over the last few years has brought into focus a few interesting points about controlling urban air pollution. This is not to lament over the capital's foul air, because Delhi's air quality still remains much better than that of Kolkata and Bangalore, but to point to the reasons why Delhi has to breathe bad air even after taking so many steps to check air pollution. It is important to discuss this because the men behind the shop windows are going to tell you that all these measures are useless and our hedonistic ride should continue unabated.

It is now evident that all gains in air quality through converting buses, taxis and three-wheelers to run on compressed natural gas (cng) and updating emission standards have been offset by the sheer growth in the number of vehicles on the road, largely private cars, of which a large proportion run on more subsidized diesel. The growing number, almost a thousand cars a day, are adding a lot to the city's air. Options, which seemed highly radical a few years ago, now look like soft measures. It's time for some tough talking.

Hard talk in a soft state? Even a child knows that public transport needs to be promoted to limit the number of private cars on the road. But the soft state has a great desire to grow, a soft growth. It means subsidizing the automobile industry with expensive infrastructure

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