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Congestion tax waits while other steps lag behind
December, 05th 2015

The Delhi government has been talking about imposing a congestion tax for several years now. In 2013, the urban development ministry at the Centre had asked it to identify the most congested areas in the city and consider imposing a steep tax on traffic there. The ministry had also suggested coming up with a report on the benefits of such an exercise.

Years later, congestion tax remains only on paper. Officials in the government admit that congestion tax is a difficult issue to get any consensus on. "It directly affects people and is not a popular move. Moreover, it's a long-term solution rather than a temporary measure like the odd-even scheme being implemented," added the official. The official emphasised on strengthening the public transport system before congestion pricing could be adopted.

Most areas are congested due to the increase in use of private vehicles. Parking lots are bursting at the seams and there are daily brawls in residential colonies over parking space. The roads are chock-a-block and the traffic crawls. On an average, 1,400 new vehicles are registered in the city every day which includes 465 cars and 825 two-wheelers.

Cities like London and Singapore have already implemented congestion tax. Congestion pricing means charging every vehicle a fixed price to allow it to enter a particular business district or road. Several experts feel that the concept of congestion pricing or having low-emission zones is a more "sustainable" method of reducing vehicle numbers since opposition from car users isn't much and there is no risk of people buying more vehicles to cheat . International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) experts suggest a combination of strategies - a Delhi Low-Emission Zone, entry restrictions and fees for vehicles failing to meet the BS IV emission norms, deployment of Stage II evaporative controls at all petrol stations and many others.

They also recommend boosting the public transport system by providing more services of both bus and Metro along with an effective last-mile connectivity plan. Without feeder services that provide a comfortable commute, people are unlikely to accept a policy like restricting cars based on odd and even numbers on alternate days.

While the Delhi government did announce a fine for burning of waste, it is not being enforced strictly-there are reports almost every day of garbage that has piled up being set on fire which contributes to the toxic particulate pollution. Construction dust too continues to be a

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