I am compelled to write this blog as someone who has seen the travails of transiting 60 kms daily right through the heart of Hyderabad. Over the past 10 years, I have seen the volume of traffic grow in geometric proportions. The Government's response seems to be to keep on adding fly-overs, road extensions etc only to find that they are not enough for the ever growing number of private vehicles.In my opinion, the Government should stay away from adding new roads and concentrate on improving the public transport. A good public transport system will wean away the public from using their vehicles leading to decongestion of roads. In addition, emissions would go down and our dependence on fossil fuels would also go down leading to energy security. Remember that India still imports 75% of its oil requirements, a major portion of which is consumed for transportation needs.
Other measures should include providing clear and clean footpaths to the public. Hyderabad has practically no footpaths. More often than not a pedestrian is treated with contempt and arrogance by the commuters on vehicles. May be it is time to add one more fundamental right - the right to walk. We should also encourage people to use bicycles. Today, people riding bicycles have greater chances of meeting an accident than any others. Separate pavements need to be provided for them. We often see that people use vehicles even for commuting short distances. If the government could provide incentives for bicyclists and pedestrians, as mentioned above, I am sure that they would be more than willing to not use their vehicles.
People should placed at the center of any urban transport policy. Unfortunately, our policies in this regard are skewed. There is a clear danger that we might be caught in a vicious cycle of more roads, more vehicles and even more roads. A proper transport policy with the focus on people would cut down emissions, reduce our dependence on oil and improve the health indicators of our billion plus population. I only hope the Government starts looking at this new approach.