Rain is a much romanticised idea in poems and films – a poet writes about his/her longing for thunderous showers and directors shoot scenes of lovers embracing under pouring water. Unfortunately the reality of monsoons, at least in India, brings out rather unromantic emotions in most people, and especially so in those living in urban cities.
This year, India has received generous amounts of rain. And this year, like all others, the monsoon was covered extensively by the media and spoken about in copious amounts on social media. And finally, this year, like previous years again, urban Indian cities broke down leading to endless hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic. John Kerry, who was in the country recently, had to cancel three trips to religious sites in Delhi because of rain-delaying-traffic.
Chairman of Centre for Public Policy Research, D.Dhanuraj said, “Traffic jams deteriorate quality of life, lead to loss of fuel, lend to pollution, and create environmental and health problems.” Daily commuters face stress on a daily basis because of poor road conditions in urban cities which include Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai.
The root of all problems
On the last day of August, Delhi-NCR woke up to pouring rain. All was good when you were standing in your balcony with a cup of tea in hand and soaking in the wondrous sight of water – until the woes of traffic began creeping in. On Wednesday, August 31, Delhi’s Dhaula Kuan area and the Ring Road were absolutely packed, and it took people at least three hours to find their way home or to work. It was while sitting in traffic, left foot on the clutch and right on the brake that I began wondering about how much was at stake with every minute wasted in traffic.
Here’s the Math
Let’s begin with money, because money, after all, is what causes all seven sins to surface. Maruti Suzuki’s ubiquitous Wagon R is one of the most economical cars and gives 20kmpl in mileage. We’re using this car to assume that you’re travelling 40km every day in Delhi’s crawling traffic. In this case, you’re spending an extra 0.4 litres of fuel and an extra Rs. 25.4 than on a normal traffic day.
According to Delhi Traffic Police, there are 96,34,976 cars in Delhi. Assuming that nearly 40% of these cars run on petrol, means that the capital is losing Rs. 9.78 crores everyday because of bumper-to-bumper traffic. There are also diesel and CNG cars which make up the other three quarters of vehicles in Delhi, and they also add to monetary losses incurred in Delhi. Even companies lose money for every employee stuck in traffic for hours on hours. If you’re earning INR 20,000/month, which translates to Rs.645 a day and to Rs.27 an hour, then the company is losing Rs.27 for every hour you are stuck in traffic.
It was reported by TOI that India loses INR 60,000 crores a year due to traffic congestion – that’s a whopping amount of money lost purely by spending futile time moving a centimeter a minute. Dhanuraj also told Indiatimes, “Metropolitan cities are very dense and no new cities are coming up. There are only a few cities to migrate to and they are no longer empowered to absorb more people.”
Is there a solution?
The Centre for Science and Environment talked about the health implications of congestion and said “a large number of studies are now available that show exposure to vehicle exhaust causes significant increase in respiratory symptoms and lung function impairment, cancer and other ailments.
“And congestion further aggravates emissions. Low average speed due to traffic congestion increases the emissions due to the stop-and-go pattern of traffic flow in congested condition.”
Paramita Dey, Senior Research Officer and Team Leader at the National Institute of Urban Affairs, told us, “One of the major causes of traffic jams in our cities during monsoon is because of problems associated with the drainage cities. Many of our cities don’t have proper drainage systems, and those that do are either choked with solid waste or not cleaned at all.”
She also said that constantly shifting gears and driving at a low speed wastes fuel but “air pollution is less during the monsoon as rain settles particles” but water pollution is increased. These problems, Dey added, can be solved if the management in charge cleans the drains before the onset of the monsoon season.
The solution to solving India’s yearly problem that comes hand in hand with the monsoon is not only to fix pot-holed roads but also the drainage system. Dhanuraj said that currently there are multiple authorities managing Indian roads that are “breathing corruption”, hence the roads remain unfixed and the drains clogged.
This article was published in Indiatimes on 1st September 2016. Click to read : Delhi Lost Over INR 9 Cr Because Of Waterlogged Roads And Crawling Traffic In The Past Two Days