Registration of vehicles may be capped in Delhi to fight traffic snarls, pollution
The Union and Delhi government are working on putting a daily cap on the number of vehicles that can be registered in the national capital, aiming to fight traffic congestion and air pollution through a radical mechanism that could make it harder to own a new vehicle in the city.
According to senior officials and government documents accessed by Hindustan Times, the move comes on the direction of a department-related parliamentary committee, which on December 14, 2018, also asked the Delhi government to conduct a study on the impact of non-personal cars and taxi aggregators on the city’s traffic.
On December 26, 2018, the Union government wrote to Delhi chief secretary Vijay Dev to convene a meeting on the issue.
“The committee has desired to know the plan to restrict the number of vehicles being registered every day in Delhi , restricting the number of vehicles entering Delhi every day, and the impact of non-personal cars and taxi aggregators on the flow of traffic,” reads the letter sent by Govind Mohan, additional secretary (Union Territories) in the ministry of home affairs. A copy of the letter has been seen by HT.
Approximately 1,850 new vehicles are registered in Delhi every day, according to the state transport department. Delhi has over 11 million registered vehicles — the highest in India. An additional 80,000 vehicles enter the city every day.
Dev did not respond to calls and message seeking a response. His office, however, confirmed that the chief secretary has asked the file to be put up at an urgent meeting to be held this week.
To assess the impact that taxis have on the city’s traffic load, the Centre has already asked the chief secretary to ask Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) to conduct a study. The Delhi government has 50% stake in DIMTS, which is an urban mobility planning body.
A senior state government official who asked not to be named said the Delhi government is yet to decide the ways through which vehicle registrations could be capped and their entry to the national Capital restricted. “The directions have just reached the Delhi government. It will take a lot of consultations with civic agencies and traffic police, before coming out with a final plan,” the official said.
Experts said that though it would be a mammoth task, restricting the registration of new vehicles could help immensely in solving Delhi’s traffic and pollution problems. “Putting a cap on new registrations will take immense political will, but it is possible. Singapore has done it recently, where it has now completely stopped issuing car certificates which are mandatory while buying a new one or driving one. So, people there now have to wait for other drivers to give up their certificates in order to get permission,” said S Gangopadhyay, former director of the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI).
To have control over its vehicular population, several cities in China have introduced a lottery system, he added. “One cannot just go and buy a new car in Beijing. One has to participate in a monthly lottery conducted by the authorities to get a car permit.”
Though Delhi’s annual winter pollution is caused by a variety of reasons, vehicular pollution is blamed for about 23% of it, according to a 2018 report published by The Energy and Resources Institute and Automotive Research Association of India. Vehicular emissions also lead to a spurt in NOx (nitrogen dioxide) and carbon monoxide levels, apart from PM2.5 particulate matter.
Talking of ways through which the number of cars on city roads could be restricted, Anumita Roychowdhury of the Centre for Science and Environment said: “The government should reconsider its old proposal of making parking proof certificates mandatory while buying a new car. Car owners should also be given a chance to tie up on annual basis with parking agencies for daily parking spots.”
Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said he is yet to see the letter. “I haven’t seen it, but the Delhi government is already working on a lot of measures to curb vehicular congestion. A lot of it will be addressed once the Delhi parking policy will be notified,” he said.