Delhi over the past several years has outsourced the matters of civic governance to the courts of law. Those responsible for civic administration have at best added to the civic mess. This has been cleared in turn, from time-to-time, by the courts. Be the case of the sealing of illegal construction, closing down of the unauthorised industrial units, shutting down polluting factories, driving out diesel fuelled buses or replacing the petrol engines in the auto rickshaws, all the steps to clear Delhi of concrete waste and energy sapping pollution could be taken because the courts gave mandate for it. No elected government ever has shown the political will to clear Delhi of the civic clutter it has brought upon itself.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday last passed an order asking the city to be cleared of vehicles, which are more than 15 years old. The court said, ‘It is undisputed and in fact unquestionable that the air pollution of NCT of Delhi is getting worse with each passing day. It not only projects the very dismayed state of affairs existing with clear indication that worst is likely to follow... All vehicles, diesel or petrol, which are more than 15 years old shall not be permitted to ply on the roads...This direction would be applicable to all vehicles without exception.’ Such an order is directed at clearing the choked city roads and clear city air. However, for the successful implementation of this order, the court must also pass another order that the government makes its public transport system more efficient.
Metro was expected to be a panacea for all the ills plaguing public transport system. However the passenger load of the Metro has quite outgrown the speed at which the project is being expanded. Though the fleet of buses under Delhi Transport Corporation today are in much better shape but they are still not comfortable enough to accommodate the users of private vehicles. Similarly, the initiative to streamline traffic through the BRT corridor has proved to be a non-starter. In such situation people would continue to use private transport. For permanent solutions, we have to address the disease and not just treat symptoms.