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Traffic timebomb ticking in Delhi

The capital's road length has increased, but not enough to accommodate the exploding car population, reports Chetan Chauhan.

delhi Updated: Jan 17, 2008 03:03 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times

You now take 30 to 40 per cent more time to reach office than you took in the year 2000. That, in spite of Delhi’s road length increasing by 20 per cent in the last decade and a plethora of flyovers coming up, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said on Wednesday.

The culprit is vehicular congestion. Here’s a friendly warning: In the year when the world’s cheapest car is set to hit Delhi roads, what’s mentioned above and explained below may come as a terrible dampener.

New CSE data shows that the number of vehicles plying between AIIMS and Dhaula Kuan has almost increased three times since 1990, leading to more congestion despite the new flyovers. From 6,000 passenger car units (PCU) per hour in 1990, the number was over 16,000 in 2007.

The data also shows that most of Delhi roads are now carrying traffic much beyond their capacity. The Dhaula Kuan and Raja Garden stretch, designed to carry 8,004 PCU per hour during peak hours, actually bears over 10,726 PCU during that time. Similar is the case with roads between Bangla Sahib and AIIMS and AIIMS and Dhaula Kaun.

The Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway is also heading for major chaos in the future. CSE director Sunita Narian said the expressway built to meet a peak traffic volume of 1.60 lakh vehicles in 2015 has already touched the 1.30 lakh mark. “If the vehicles increase by the present rate, the expressway would be choked by then,” she said.

Such has been the increase in congestion in Delhi that that peak hour traffic speed has fallen to 10 kmph from 15 kmph in 2002.

With about 1,100 vehicles getting registered in Delhi every day, the average peak hour speed will further go down, if plying personal vehicle is not made a disincentive, Narian said in a letter written to Finance Minister P Chidambaram. She wants higher taxes on personal cars and zero excise duty on buses to encourage public transport sector.

In Delhi, she blamed, huge registration of personal vehicles since 2000 and fall in registration of buses for the chaos. As compared to 231 cars registered every day in Delhi in 2001, the number has increased to 308 in 2006. For two-wheelers the number has almost doubled from 333 vehicles per day in 2001.

But only 6,600 buses are registered in Delhi as compared to about 9,000 in 2001, she said.

This congestion also pinches pocket of the citizens, Narian said. Every Delhi'ite loses about Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 every year because of extra consumption of fuel and human hours lost in traffic jams.

Dalip Chenoy, Director, Society for Indian Automobile Manufacturers, however, blamed the construction activity in the city roads for the increased congestion.

He said Delhi's passenger car penetration (85 for 1,000 people) is much lower than the European countries like Germany and France, which have about 500 vehicles for 1,000 people.