Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday restrictions such as road rationing or congestion charge do not work and the focus should be on improving public transport.
The comment is seen as an admission that the odd-even scheme the city tried out twice in 2016, didn’t work. Kejriwal also indicated the plan that restricts the use of private cars was not being brought back.
“Last year we had taken cues from abroad and tried implementing odd-even to fight congestion and air pollution but this is a temporary measure. Not a permanent solution…” he said.
To clear the Capital’s toxic air, a Supreme Court-appointed panel has suggested steps such as steep parking fee, shutting down of schools and a congestion charge on days of high pollution.
“… But all this can be done only when our public transport is reliable. If we do not improve public transport and impose such restrictions, public jootey maregi hume (people will beat us up with shoes),” Kejriwal said.
This is the first time that the chief minister has spoken publically on steps proposed to improve the Capital’s air, rated one of the worst in the world.
Delhi’s biggest problems were traffic congestion and air pollution, the chief minister said. Instead of restrictions, the government was aiming to strengthen public transport and improve last-mile connectivity.
The Capital’s has an environment friendly Metro system but it doesn’t reach all parts of the city and all its suburbs. Getting to stations is also cumbersome.
“The transport department has rolled out 100-200 buses, but this is not enough. We need to start inducting buses in thousands,” Kejriwal said.
“We need to boost public transport to a point that if we make travelling by car expensive then public transport should be easily available to people.”
The chief minister was speaking at the launch of the transport department’s online services that will allow people to go online to submit applications and pay for eight facilities such as driving licences and duplicate vehicle registration certificates.