Shahwar wonders how long before we’ll be known as ‘Ban it’ nation?
I’m increasingly beginning to think that, pretty soon, we’ll be called the ‘Ban it’ nation. Anything that doesn’t appeal to the enlightened minds that rule our great nation is banned – be it your food habits, your dress sense, the places you visit, the movies you see, the books you read, the cars you drive, and god knows what else pretty soon.
The automotive sector has also been a victim of these knee jerk bans too. A few years ago, e-rickshaws were introduced on the streets of Delhi. And it was a good move, since these e-rickshaws didn’t cause noise or air pollution and the poor rickshaw puller didn’t have to pedal till he collapsed under the unforgiving summer sun. Many economically weak people bought these rickshaws with the help of bank loans, and then one horrible incident instantly took them off the roads.
One reckless e-rickshaw driver hit a lady with an infant in her arms in a crowded street, which unfortunately led to a horrible death. As a result of this incident, all e-rickshaws were banned. The owners protested, but the ban stood. There were reports that they were not roadworthy, and therefore illegal. But, if that were the case, how were they allowed to ply in the first place? How and why were the owners able to fund, buy and use them without anyone at all raising an objection?
The ban cost many people dear. There were loans to repay, and this was their only means of livelihood – not to mention the fact that many of the drivers lived hand to mouth. The ban was ultimately lifted, and now these rickshaws are on the road again. But how did they suddenly become legal again?
Diesel taxis are also facing a ban in Delhi – and I must say these umbrella bans become more strange each time they’re implemented. New diesel taxis are all new generation machines, and, unlike the old diesel Ambassador taxis, these don’t spew black smoke. How do you differentiate, then, between a year old diesel Toyota Etios taxi and a privately used Etios? Why should the taxi get the axe, while the private one can keep rolling? And what about the proposed ban on 10-year-old SUVs? After all, they comply with the existing norms – so how can you decide to just take them off the roads one fine day? The same is true for all diesel vehicles above 2.0 litres – the sale of which is currently banned in the NCR.
Some years ago, a powerful car bomb went off in a crowded market in Guwahati, Assam. The car was parked in a lot below a flyover. Guwahati has expanded very fast, and somewhat haphazardly. The number of vehicles have gone through the roof and the parking spaces have shrunk. A number of flyovers have been built, and the space below the flyovers were used as parking lots that accommodated hundreds of cars. After the bomb blast, the authorities banned parking under the flyovers! Now the cars have spilled to the streets, where they’re parked haphazardly and maddening traffic jams have ensued. Banning parking under flyovers won’t solve the problem – that only serves to increase the pollution and jams. What we need is better policing to keep the bombs out.
Pollution is a real threat in the big cities, and it’s killing us slowly. All these bans are for us ostensibly, but surely they can be planned and implemented far more effectively.
I want to breath cleaner air, as well as eat healthy, but I certainly don’t want to wake up one fine day and find that I can’t drive the car in my driveway and eat a steak with my breakfast. You may say your intentions are good, but it’s your actions that speak louder than words. Surely, you’ve heard that phrase before?