08 December, 2015

Pollution Free Delhi

Respected Mr. Chief Minister,

Heard your radio spot on Radio One today and felt the urge to write in.

I have been born and brought up, studied and worked, married and had a child, and have basically spent 36years of my life, solely in Delhi. I love my city and have nothing but pain in heart, since the past five to ten years, as I noticed that we can't even see the stars, feel the 'sardi ki dhoop', pull our windows down in the car instead of wasting fuel on the AC anymore. If you go to any major crossing, you can really feel your lungs getting filled up with smoke. My 5years old daughter, born and brought up here, has several pollution-related ailments, for which we have had to keep her on medication for the past 2 years or so, in spite of the fact that she was born, in perfect health. As a lifelong resident, I would like to humbly request you on a few things.

1) Private owned as well as public transport vehicles in Delhi have been kept in check for years now, thanks to the 'pollution under control' certificate system, as well as CNG switch in case of all public transport.
2) The vehicles that still do not comply to the pollution-under-control norms are the following:
a) trucks
b) tempos
c) auto-sized tempos used to transport goods to grocery shops
d) government vehicles (ambassadors, gypsies, etc.) that have not been phased out still, while for personal/private owned vehicles makes of these years were outlawed ages ago
e) earth moving vehicles (concrete mixers, excavators, heavy machinery used to make roads, demolition trucks, garbage trucks, tow-trucks, etc) that (and the government ambassadors, gypsies etc.) clearly exhaust BLACK smoke, if you have ever seen one
3) Most ministers travel with a convoy of cars with them. Why waste so much fuel and cause pollution for a single person's commute? Do they find their own nation's capital not safe enough for them? Why not cut back to just one car per bureaucrat/ diplomat, with the exceptions of the PM and President?
4) All the construction work which has been going on SIMULTANEOUSLY in Delhi, for several years now. Be in Metro construction, rebuilding government buildings, roads, private kothis, DDA flats, etc. All have been the only major contributors to the Suspended Dust Particles that we have all become so familiar with. If you park your car anywhere around South Extension for five minutes, you'd come back to a car covered in very fine dust!
5) The garbage-collectors (safai-karmcharis) are constantly burning organic as well as inorganic trash. Even in affluent colonies like GK1. I shudder to I think about waste-disposal systems (or the lack of) in less than affluent localities.

So, instead of trying the completely impractical odd/even system, can we take care of the above mentioned first?

Reasons why odd/even system are impractical:
* My sister travels to work from South Extension to Gurgaon, and has to constantly make Noida/Haus Khas/ Central/ West Delhi trips during the same day. With the kind of hours all private firms keep, can you even guarantee her safety, when she's not allowed to take her own car three days of a week and rely completely on public transport?
* My husband also has to keep travelling between GK, Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon, Saket, West and Central Delhi throughout the day. Most taxis/autos still refuse any long/short distances, or fares that would take them away from their preferred 'zones'.
* I go to drop and pick up my daughter from GK to Lodhi Estate and back, everyday. As per your odd/even system, I would have to figure out if I want to spend 100/- one way on an auto (for a distance of 5kms), as per the gundagardi of autowalas, or take a rickshaw till the metro station, switch two metro trains and then take a rickshaw from that station to her school every day. Even though, the Almighty has graced us enough so that we can afford to buy a car, a pollution under control one, on top of that.
* We have also considered the school-bus option. Where there aren't even bars for the smaller kids to hold onto, forget about seat-belts, if they fall asleep. Bigger kids still bully smaller ones, in buses. And you must have read of enough child-molestation cases, to be aware how safe smaller kids really are, even in school transport. Frankly, even if there's only a one in a hundred chance that my child would face molestation in school transport, I would still not like to test it out on my daughter.
* Car-pools do not work for short distances, as especially in the wee hours, no one really has the time or patience to wait/ go pick up four other kids from the same school, when you might yourself be running behind. Mornings are chaotic enough as it is. Why throw in another factor that might get your kid late for school, and yourself in turn, late for work?
* I grew up travelling in DTCs and cannot even count the number of times I was sexually harassed on a single commute. I had no option then. So, had to tolerate being groped, fondled, stripped, poked and what not, for some 15years. But I would do anything to ensure that my daughter never has to witness that kind of disgusting horrors that make one wish one was dead. Really.
* Some people would seriously consider buying two cars, per person of their families; one with an even number plate and another an odd on, to ensure they are never stranded and have to 'Uber' it in the late hours after work and risk rape/robbery/abduction, even if they have to sell their property for it. Would you call that helpful for the environment? But alas, only the super-rich could afford this option. What about us, the middle-class?
* I and thousands like me, would again like to humbly request you to consider cleaning-up the commercial vehicles, government vehicles, the SDPs caused due to the construction work, and making the public transport well-connected, safe and clean for everyone first, before asking us Dilliwalas to give up the only thing that makes us feel independent, safe and capable, on a day-to-day basis.

Best regards