Lok Sabha elections 2019: Residents give a thumbs up to anti-pollution plan
The Aam Aadmi Party’s manifesto, which promises to transform Delhi into a world-class city on the lines of Singapore and London, evoked mixed response from residents, activists and experts in the national capital.
The AAP released its manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls on Thursday. Some of the key promises include converting the state-run bus services into 100% electric buses and reviving the river Yamuna on the lines of Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon or Thames in London.
Residents said the promises on cleaning the city and greening measures sound good but ‘full statehood’ must not be the condition to fulfil these. In the manifesto, the AAP has listed programmes that it had implemented without full statehood. Along side, there is a list of promises, which the party claims it will implement “with full statehood”.
BS Vohra, president, East Delhi RWA Joint Front, said the party has raised some important issues but should not have made statehood as a condition to implement them.
“Decongestion and reducing pollution are some of the major needs of the city. The manifesto promises both, which is a good sign. However, a ruling party must not make achieving full statehood as a condition for working on these lines. They must work for making Delhi a better city with or without statehood,” said Vohra.
Vohra also appreciated the promise of turning the bus service fully electric but added that the existing infrastructure must also be improved.
Experts said the manifesto of any political party must address the real needs of the city such as increasing green cover, reducing pollution and rejuvenating water bodies.
“The manifesto released by any political party that intends to form the government must reflect a strong political commitment for addressing the city’s major concerns. It must focus on implementation of three-year clean air action plans to meet the clean air standards,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
In the manifesto, the party also promises to decongest the city, vacuum-cleaning of roads, parking facilities, door-to-door garbage collection and removal of open dhalaos. It also announced incentivising segregation of garbage by providing free public transport coupons.
Arunava Dasgupta, urban designer and architect said, “To revive the river is an idea long overdue but it can’t be done till we prioritize ecology over (infrastructure and built) development. There should be complete commitment to restoration of the ecology of the river so that it can be brought back to the quality of life that it once had. In a city like Delhi, the issue is about the scale at which we are trying to address its complex levels of problems. To revive the river, all three levels of governance – local, state and the Centre — have to converge keeping aside political differences.”
The AAP has promised to develop and beautify the riverfront, ban construction on the river banks and create a tourism hotspot around the Signature Bridge.
Activists also pointed out that the promises must not be contingent upon achieving full statehood, as the seven MPs in Delhi alone could not get the task done and the development work must go on.
“The promise made in context of reviving the river reveals that they don’t understand the needs of the Yamuna, which is the city’s lifeline. It does not need to become Thames or Cheonggyecheon. These are all embellishments. None of the promises made will help rejuvenate the river,” said Manoj Mishra, of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.
Atul Goyal, president, URJA (United Residents Joint Action), an umbrella body of 2,500 RWAs in the city said, “This manifesto is an attempt to woo voters before the general elections. But the people must analyse the promises the party had made in the previous elections and how much it has delivered on it.”