Delhi being the national capital of India is adjudged one of the most congested cities in the world. The root cause of the problem is the fuelling demand for personal conveyance particularly cars. This has brought to fore the government failure to ensure efficient public transport system and its management and keeping vehicular fleet under control. Besides, there are factors which are lending to the gravity of the situation such as exponentially increasing urbanization rate, fast rising per capita income, marked improvement in affordability, evolving sophisticated lifestyle and cheap auto loans. Where, increasing cars on the Delhi roads give the impression of raising standards of living; on the other hand it is significantly contributing to economic and environmental problems, which is bound to have major repercussions on wider issues of state and national importance like public health, fiscal deficit and economic progress of this very state. To put a break on this vicious circle, car pool is the best solution and needs full-fledged encouragement (Flow chat 1).
Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are follows:
I. To analyze the trends in the number, share and growth of vehicles in Delhi.
II. To analyze the impact of growth of vehicles particularly cars on the various factors.
III. The study provides the policy suggestions to improve the existing systems.
Trends in the Number, Share and Growth of Vehicles in Delhi
To the extent that the total vehicular fleet in Delhi has become far more than that of India’s three major metros - Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai put together at present. According to State of Environment Report (2010) the statistics reveal that in 1998-99 there were 3.05 million vehicles in Delhi which has gone up to more than 6.30 million in 2008-09, more than threefold increase in the volume. A further bifurcation indicates that there is a stark rise in the cars as compared to the commercial vehicles in absolute terms, though both of them more than doubled in a decade’s time to 5.82 million and 0.48 million respectively by 2008-09.
The Figure 1 shows that the share of cars/jeeps and motors cycles/scooters to the total vehicles increased from 1990-91 to 2007-08. Decennial growth rate for the period 1998-2008 is highest for the cars (126%) followed by taxies (82%) and motorcycle/scooters (80%), whereas auto rickshaws have experienced negative growth rate (Figure 2). It clearly shows that the exponential growth in the number of personalised vehicles has increased in Delhi. This uncontrolled growth in the vehicles mainly cars is an outcome of several exogenous factors.
The Impacts of Growth of Vehicles on the Various Factors
First, due to growing economic activities, there has been marked rise in the Net State Domestic Product (NSDP), more than doubled during 2001-08. Subsequently, led to surge in the per capita income of the people of Delhi of 93% in the same period and has been consistently much higher than national per capita income figures for almost two decades (Figure 3). This increase in purchasing power has greatly improved the car affordability of people. A good proportion of households possess more than one car.
Second, ready availability of auto loans at soft rate of interest in spite of rise in policy rates by RBI four times so far in 2010 to tame inflation, has also fuelled the demand. These two factors let alone has increase overall sales of vehicles not just in Delhi but in India as well. According to the figures released by Society of Indian Automobiles Manufacturers, there has been 23% rise in the vehicles in the month of August, 2010 as compared to the same month last year. Whereas, cars has seen 33% growth and prospects are looking strong for the rest of the year as well.
Third, urbanization rate, responsible for growing vehicle fleet in national capital is also seeing a rapid upward trend on account of both natural growth rate and migration. Between 1991 and 2000, Delhi population has grown at a decadal growth rate of 47%. It is expected to touch 18 million mark by 2011, if the current annual population growth of four percent persist. There is high correlation between the increasing urbanization and number of cars in Delhi.
Fourth, government failure in providing sturdy public transport system and poor connectivity has left people with no choice but to rely on personal conveyance. All these factors have led to impeccable surge in the demand for cars. This rising car fleet is becoming a great cause of concern given its ill effects. The immediate is the regular long traffic jams in Delhi and NCR. Delhi government has taken several measures like increasing the length of road network, widening of roads, construction of flyovers/grades separators and launching of metros, however the traffic congestion continues to increase unabated. According to latest figures, road network had been enlarged from 28,508 km in 2000-01 to 30,985 km in 2007-08, whereas, the vehicles had almost doubled from 33.7 lakhs in 2000-01 to 63 lakhs in 2008-09. Consequently, the average vehicular speed has dropped to 15 km/hr from 18 km/hr. According to TERI, it is likely to further reduce to mere 5 Km/hr by 2011 end if the present scenario of huge imbalance between pace of increase in road network and volume of vehicles continues. Further, the effective distance travelled even by a personalised vehicle has also increased by about 50%.
As a result of the massive rise in the vehicle fleet in Delhi in comparison to other major Indian cities, it has been assigned the maximum vehicle pollution loads across all pollutants categories, far more than other cities in consideration.
The annual Nox trend reflects a significant ambient concentration over the years owing primarily to growing vehicular fleet mainly diesel powered cars. The other air pollutants are found to be above standards marks due to congestion, traffic jams etc. Additionally, Delhi has also potential for low ozone concentration build up owing to abundant sunlight and high vehicular movements. Concerns have been expressed about low concentration of ozone which is essential for protection from Ultra violate rays. This unrestrained increase in traffic mainly due to cars has inevitable negative externalities and bearing in terms of environmental damages (poor air ambient quality in spite of wide usage of clean fuel “CNG”, unleaded fuel, EURO II and modern exhaust technology).
All this bound to have irrevocable spell on people’s health and work productivity, which is very much pertinent. High incidence rates of respiratory diseases, cancer and heart disease have been recorded in the city. The impact is not just limited to the adults but children are also at a grave risk of being affected by significantly lower serum vitamin D and high levels of parathyroid hormone and alkaline phosphate levels. The impact of this is also seen on the high levels of stress, poor family and social life.
Besides, consistently high rates of car accidental cases both injured and fatal had been registered for three consecutive years, 2004-06.This is followed by motorcycles/scooters. Apart from direct and visible consequences, this growing car fleet is aggravating other indirect but equally noteworthy social and economic problems, which are bound to have major repercussions on wider issues of state and national importance like sub optimal utilization of energy/fuel, troubling waters for the Common Wealth Games, burden on state exchequer, diversion of public investment towards unproductive purposes, deteriorating public health, poor work productivity and hence likely decline in economic progress of this very state in the future.
The best feasible way to deal with this grim situation is to promote car pool, which is an ideal alternative for future traffic management. There are various initiative and innovative business models adopted by the various organizations in India to reduces traffic congestion and pollution level etc, but very few of them are successful in India. In Delhi, one of the successful car pool system is Green City Carpool initiative by young entrepreneurs Vineet Danwar and Sunil Palia (Times of India dated on 9th August, 2010) having many fold benefits like, it will help in reducing travel cost and time; make travel more pleasurable and convenient; ensures better security to individuals; increase social networking opportunities; reduces congestion on roads which helps increase driving speed and help in reducing pollution, etc. Such carpools are the future of the Delhi traffic management and needs encouragement for the wholesome benefit of every citizen.
Reference and Additional Thinking
• Government of Delhi (2010) “State of Environment Report- 2010”, Government of Delhi
• Transport Department, Government of NCT of Delhi - Statistical Data cited from “Indiastat”
• Times of India (2010) “Jump into car pool to tide over jams”, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Jump-into-car-pool-to-tide-over-jams/articleshow/6277303.cms, Times of India
(Srinivasulu is pursuing his PhD in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) New Delhi on the topic titled -Changing Market Structure and Marketing Efficiency in Fruits and Vegetables in India: A Case Study of Tamil Nadu. He was working as a Research Analyst at International Food Policy Research Institute on the USAID project "Rural Service Hubs: Business Catalysts for Rural Competitiveness and Inclusiveness" to analyze the household survey by using statistical package STATA. Prior to IFPRI, he was working with IWMI, UNCTAD, TERI, and ICRIER in various capacities and projects. Alongside he has also taken various short term consultancy with UNDP, UNWFP, JBIC and DHI. His area of research interest includes Applied Econometrics, Household Survey Analysis, Time Series Analysis, Agricultural Economics, Trade and Environmental Economics. He also expertise in various econometric software applications and database includes STATA, E-Views, SPSS, WITS, Capita Line, Prowess and Business Beacon. He has done his master from Madras School of Economics (MSE).
Kirti Danwar is individual consultant and consulting for various national and international organizations on the micro and macroeconomic issues. Prior to this, she was working as a Consultant in International Market Assessment (IMA) India Pvt. Ltd. The work task involved designing questionnaire, conducting primary survey online and analysing the data with the help of econometric models by using econometric software. Before IMA, she was working at Evalueserve.com Pvt Ltd as Assistant Manager, Market Research Data Analytics. During her tenure, she has handled multiple projects of top most reputed companies, related to various sectors like Pharmaceutical products, Logistics, FMCG products, Education, Security devices, Telecom etc., using various statistical techniques and tools. Her area of research interest includes, Applied Econometrics, Macro Economics, Time Series Analysis, Agricultural Economics and Trade. She has done his master from Delhi School of Economics.
The views expressed in the write-up are personal and do not re?ect the official policy or position of the organization.)