A population of over a crore, five million vehicles, and pollution that’s 400% above the permissible level, Welcome to Delhi! This place has seen great urbanization; some of the finest architecture, enjoys the comfort of metro, has billionaires in the making, and, with the current pace, is soon to be honored with another title of “The Most Polluted City”. The massive increase in the number of vehicles on road, has given way to soaring levels of carbon-monoxide, nitrous oxide, lead particles, and other harmful emissions, thus making one question the purity of the air we breathe. According to the suspended particular emission norm (PM2.5), the detected particular matter in Delhi’s air was 584 microgram as in October 2007. This is about 1000% above the standard level of 60 microgram, averaging to around 400% for the complete year. This fact clearly instills a picture of people being choked by these emissions in the years to come, if the current trend prevails.
The opening of global markets, infliction of MNC’s and rocketing salaries of the Delhites, along with availability of easy loans, has ensured a tremendous rise in the standard of living of the people. All this, coupled with the desire for comfort traveling among the masses, has jacked up the sale of personal vehicles due to the emerging automobile market in India, especially in the field of small-segment cars. Hence in the present scenario, one car per average middle-class is a very common trend and is fast earning itself a tag of ‘necessity’. Another concern is the deteriorated state of public transport in Delhi, where overloaded buses with people hanging from the door are no more a surprising sight. The long-waiting queues, the jam-packed buses, the pushing and jerking, the accidental brakes, the swinging and stumbling crowd is all that is required to encourage an individual to take up the driving seat, turn on the engine and hit on the roads! The poor condition of these buses leaves no place for the upper-middle/upper class, who are ready to shell out some more money provided a convenient and comfortable mode of transportation is available. The addition of metros to the public transport system of Delhi has been greatly welcomed but still its inability to penetrate each and every corner of the city leaves a major dependence on commuter buses. So, the solution is evident and that is a major revolution that re-invents the face of the ruined buses and ensures a smooth ride to the commuters. The soaring pollution levels have to be brought under control or else there might be a dead end down the line from where there’s no return.Ishant Arora