Drive around the ban
Dinesh Mohan
Monday, July 16, 2007  21:50 IST

At a recent conference on sustainable urban transportation in Delhi, a senior bureaucrat lamented that many people now owned two or three cars, and if something was not done to stop the influx of private vehicles into our cities, life would become intolerable.

A police officer was really worried that the introduction of Tata’s ‘One Lakh Car’ would make his job intolerable. And now, we hear that some officials in Mumbai would like to bar the entry of the One Lakh Car so that the city does not get choked.

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We should, indeed, be worried about the ill effects of the increasing use of personal vehicles in our cities as they harm our health in a number of ways.

To understand the real issues here, let us first look at the facts and numbers. According to the Census of India, less than 20 per cent of families own cars in rich cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

The National Council of Applied Economic Research estimates that only families that earn more than Rs10 lakh a year own one car per family on an average. This is the situation that prevailed in cities like London, Paris and New York more than 50 years ago.

At present, car ownership per person in Singapore and London is more than that in Delhi by two and five times respectively.

Even road space availability in those cities is about the same as our cities. Therefore, car ownership rates in our cities are quite low by international standards.

The second issue concerns restricting the registration of cars in our cities. It is easier said than done. Firstly, who should not be allowed to register a car?

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Readers' comments
I buy the idea but bigger cars should be taxed heavily
Hi I find cars like Innova and Scorpio are clogging city roads. These cars should pay heavier (example parking space is square of the area occupied). Electric cars should be given concession - lesser taxes. Like credit card reward points Public transport tickets should carry travel points which can be redeemed to goodies like electric bill vouchers, Popular malls vouchers, convert to credit card points etc. The more you use public transport the more you will benefit. Cyclists should be awarded separate lanes, Regards Rajesh K
By Rajesh Kalyanaraman
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
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