Monthly Archives: January 2016

Beyond Odd and Even

The odd even rule has politicized the atmosphere and this is good. It will also be the cause of much idiocy ensuing in the coming days that will be utilised by the political class and the bureaucracy. A squabble is not an argument, much as we may confuse between the two. The media will as usual resort to the former and make it sound like the latter

It is currently in vogue to state that odd even rule results in traffic reduction and not reduction in air pollution. It is not possible to immediately decipher a liner mathematical relationship between traffic reduction, emission reduction and air pollution. But it would be strange to assume that a significantly lesser combustion of fossil fuels will not result in lesser air pollution. But it’s best not to get too involved in this debate till clearer data can be sieved out from motivated data.

In any case, odd/ even is a short term measure and will stop after a week because it causes inconvenience to the public, particularly those who do not come from multiple car owning families or own a single car. While excessive cars are to blame for some of the air pollution problem one must be careful not to make the car owner the only culprit as car ownership is completely legal. Moral lectures will not stop car usage.

A long standing problem in India is the habit of the bureaucracy to not act upon existing laws, and slowly nudge the political class and the citizen into making new laws or going to court respectively.

I draw your attention to some clear and brazen violations of the rule of law which are commonplace and have contributed enormously to the current situation. The existing laws should be enforced to significantly help reduce air pollution. If they are not enforced the officer in charge should be severely punished.

Parking- Car parking is possibly the most subsidized of all commodities as it comes minus the cost of stocking. It is more expensive to stock potatoes as compared to cars. Three times the space for parking a car is provided to a car owner as compared to a hawker, totally free of cost. This includes free lighting and municipal cleaning of the area.

Despite the high powered committee of the MoUD suggesting differential parking to make car usage expensive nothing has been done. Car parking on tarmac is illegal on several roads, yet no fine is levied. Illegal parking and hawking generate thousands of crores of illicit revenues collected by mafia with the connivance of officers in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

Free parking is a clear and present danger to any policy of enhanced public transport. Free car parking adds to traffic jams, choked drains and road accidents.

Building material & Construction & Demolition(C&D) Waste (malba) – The city of Delhi generates more than 3000 TPD of C&D waste per day. The Supreme Court and the NGT have specifically asked for heavy fines (Rs 50,000/-) on the open stocking, trade and transportation of building material and C&D waste, but still this is visible all over the city, stocked on roadside, on footpaths, next to municipal garbage dumps and blocking traffic but hardly anyone has been fined. At URJA we see regular complaints made by citizens to the Municipal commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and area SDMs but nothing is done. The officers collect their part and a hapless citizenry starts looking for new elements to blame.

Burning of local waste- The Govt refuses to enforce minimum wages for security guards and make it mandatory for security agencies to provide protective gear, gloves, overcoats, jackets etc. This is one of the reasons why a poor and overworked security guard lights up twigs and leaves. The Delhi Police has clear rules on private security agencies. They completely ignore the rules and bypass the law. Some misguided but well meaning element have as usual made emotional appeals to provide blankets to security guards. This is foolish. A crisp and ready security guard is unlikely while wielding a blanket. As usual the real responsibility is evaded by officers in the labor department and the Delhi Police while guarding agencies exploit poverty at will.

No effort has been made by the Municipal corporations to compost fallen leaves & kitchen waste. This can be easily done within corners in all municipal parks. While removal and cleaning is shown it does not really take place. The staff burns it. Nobody responsible is punished.

Footpaths- Studies have shown that a significant portion of vehicle usage over short distance is avoidable if safe footpaths exist. The law states that car parking on footpaths is illegal (to Rule 15 of the Rules of the Road Regulations 1989). Complaints to the Police are of no use. They cannot tow away vehicles due to shortage of space but they can fine the owners. Hundred of complaints have been made to the traffic police but nothing gets done. A massive amount of air pollution is generated within a local area if people take to cars instead of walking to the market half a mile away. There are clear instructions in the recent Supreme Court judgment to repair and make good all footpaths but the PWD is doing nothing about that. The Officers in The Govt just do not do it.

The Lobby – Lobbies exist we all know that. It is convenient to complain about corporate lobbies and giant multinationals while saying nothing about crores wasted on so called cleaning of rivers, lack of provision of clean drinking water by successive governments and a collapsing sewage system. The brazen connivance of the officers of all governments is ignored by the public and we find it easy to see corporate conspiracies as we rave & rant for new regulations while the ones that can still help are being flouted.

To ensure that the laws are followed we will have to divert our attention from the political theater and instead demand it from the right people.

The corporates are not obliged to serve our interests. It’s also not about the BJP & AAP politicos; they are obliged to play politics for their very survival.

The most protected species, the officialdom is statutorily bound and obliged to uphold the rule of law. Turn your attention towards him. That is where each and every demand should go. In hard copy with original signatures!

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