“A developed Country is not one where the poor owns cars but it is one where the rich use Public Transport” – Delhi High Court


New Delhi, October 19 : National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), an intervenor in the case, welcomes the Delhi High Court judgement on the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) case, whereby it upheld the policy and dismissed the petition filed by Nyaybhoomi. The judgement by Honourable judges, Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Manmohan Singh upheld the right of the state to develop ‘a sustainable urban transport policy’ and common people’s democratic right over the road.


The 5.8 km BRT stretch has been under fire from several quarters – car owners, certain media houses, nearby upmarket resident welfare associations etc. – since time of its functioning. The BRT concept has been under attack and veiled under the rubric of rights and justice but it needs to be noted that in a democracy the planning and resources can’t be cornered by a group of rich people. The judgement though refuses to take sides over the class issue but the examples it cites does support our argument that majority of Delhi public use public transport and any planning has to keep in larger public good. Only a small section of the urban population uses cars but they are consuming a large chunk of the resources, as delineated by the judgement that  98% of the expenditure under JNURRM is being spent for the privately owned vehicles, cars and two wheelers leading to deteriorating air quality and causing massive traffic jams and so on.


The judgement notes that “since in a democracy it is not possible to physically seize cars and destroy them, the only democratic solution would be to dedicate road space for the buses, which would move fast, and this would act as an incentive for people to switch to Public Transport”. Given the increasing population, which stands today at 18.2 million, and despite several measures taken as road widening, flyovers (46 as of now) etc. traffic congestion continues and “there is no escaping to the fact that citizens will have to use public transport, one day or other”. The judgment rightly states, that two cars, taking same space as a bus, transport only three persons as against 60 to 70 persons in a bus during peak hours and around 40 persons during non-peak hours. A car commences and terminates its journey with the same 1.5 persons. But a bus would drop and pick up many persons en-route adding up to nearly 200 people.


We do hope that the Judgement will give boost to Delhi Government which has a plan of 7 more BRT corridors in the city and some of the glitches with the current stretch will be sorted. BRT concept is already running successfully in cities of Ahmedabad, Indore, Pune and others and with sufficient planning and promotion by the government Delhi working class and public transport users can surely look forward to a better mobility within the city in time to come.


We also hope that this will pave the way for criminal action against Mr. B B Sharan, who broke the median personally using a bulldozer on the night of May 12 on the BRT. Delhi government must take action against him, seek damages and file criminal case for destruction of the government property.


Rajendra Ravi, Bhupinder Singh Rawat, Sunita Rani, Anita Kapoor, Nanu Prasad Gupta, Seela M Mahapatra and Madhuresh Kumar


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