There is an old saying, `Don’t legislate what one can’t implement’. Knee-jerk announcements can malign even otherwise good solutions. Without any data, feasibility studies and an iota of preparation, even the best ideas can turn into disasters. Legislations without effective implementation machinery can make life more difficult for law-abiding citizens, making them vulnerable to exploitation.Who will implement the odd-even number rule? The same traffic cops who are accused of `harassing’ the public for simple traffic violations? With this new weapon they will generate enough illwill as they did by removing tinted glasses apparently to ensure rapes didn’t happen in moving vehicles. Now traffic police will be tackling pollution, leaving aside their core duty of traffic management and regulation.
If people don’t comply , then police will regularize their offences by collecting fine as they neither have the authority nor the resources to impound such a large number of vehicles. That’s an indirect way of mobilizing revenue! The one at the receiving end would be the aam aadmi who owns only one vehicle, which he wouldn’t have bought if there was a robust public transport system.
The second blow to the odd-even scheme could come from those seeking exemption -government, VIPs, emergency services, governmentrun public transport, privately-owned public transport like auto rickshaws, taxis and tourist vehicles. This will create another class of citizens and there will be huge premium for getting exemption.
Instead of finding longterm solutions, we are inclined to take decisions which are directed only at the common man. No doubt, all our efforts of carpooling have not graduated beyond customary events and futuristic speeches. The odd-even rule is a sureshot formula for compulsory carpooling. It will create extra space on the roads, which should ideally be filled by public transport. It will also ease the pressure on parking space as most private vehicles are parked for 16 to 20 hours after.But where are the extra buses and the staff to run them?
The most effective way of easing congestion is by popularizing public transport. Thankfully , unlike other chicken-and-egg solutions, the sequence is pretty straight-forward here. Create a parking policy prohibiting free onand off-street parking, followed by massive public and private investment in parking infrastructure. If commodity prices can be controlled by reducing demand and increasing supply then why not congestion and environmental pollution?
Glamorous announcements which are made without fixing the nuts and bolts of governance can create many expectations but few results.Unfortunately , while quoting the success of the odd-even schemes in the West, we fail to appreciate the planning that has gone into making them successful. But Indians are different. We believe in miracles. If statues can drink milk, then even the odd-even announcement can solve our traffic and environmental problems! (The views expressed here are personal)
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