Singapore-type car quota in Bangalore ?

Sure, we can put a cap on the number of cars on road in Bangalore, but our city administration needs to go authoritarian first. Our kind of governance – entailing committee deliberations, wider consultations, consensus – is not designed for radical measures. I recall union finance minister P Chidambaram’s prescription for Mumbai, in another context. The city needs autonomy to govern itself, he said. And better governance calls for an administrative apparatus that has its own revenue base and financial independence.

Car rationing and vehicle ownership through auction may have worked wonders for Singapore. My sense is, it works only in Singapore. Of course, we are entitled to our ideas, borrowed ones at that. Bangalore’s ever-worsening traffic nightmare sets us thinking wild thoughts, Our city managers are thinking ‘car rationing’ on the Singapore pattern, and also sensor-operated de-congestion toll for entry into high-traffic zone. 

Incidentally, I heard  they have recently hiked in Singapore (without fuss and public protests)   electronic road pricing tariff to five Singapore dollars. That is how much you pay every time you drive in to downtown area. Vehicles fitted with electronic card are metered for payment when they cross the electronic sensors placed on entry into the restricted zones in the city. 

In Bangalore, with overbearing politics and political interference in administrative affairs, we are given to taking issues to the streets. We just can’t introduce a car quota merely because it is sound or a sensible thing to do. If we could, wouldn’t we have resolved the traffic issue before it became a major civic menace? 

We cherish our freedom to protest. We don’t give in, without raising objections to other party ideas and proposals. In multi-party system of governance, there is no such thing as smooth-sailing. Take the airport project. The Bangalore International airport, executed by a private consortium, is coming up on schedule. Snag is in the city-airport connectivity through an expressway that appears to be cob-webbed in red tape and petty politicking over award of contracts. 

In our democracy simplest of matters are settled through a long-drawn consultative process. It may be someone’s considered opinion that 2 and 2 make 4; but there may be others holding a different view. Opinions of those arguing  that 2 and 2 need not add up, and those who believe that 2 and 2 synergized into 5 would have to be weighed, debated and voted upon before reaching the conclusion that 2 plus 2 adds up to  4 under normal time. But then in Karnataka, we are either under a coalition government or a stop-gap Thakur rule waiting for another non-performing coalition. In such governance a 2plus2 proposition may well end up as zero. This is not maths; it has to do with ‘coalition dharma’.

Car rationing for Bangalore is still at the proposition stage, according to the transport commissioner. And many issues would have to be looked into before the proposal is put up for decision at the highest level. Which means, the  proposal has a fair chance of being shot down. The Singapore system entails a pre-set quota on the number of privately owned vehicles in the city state. Open tenders are invited twice a month to auction ownership rights on cars and award of ‘certificate of entitlement’ to successful bidders. The certificate so issued in valid for ten years. 

Though I don’t see such system being implemented in our city, the idea is well worth a CII sponsored workshop, if only because we can come up with five reasons why we can’t have the car quota system. Besides, high-powered urban infrastructure development seminars are fashionable in a city with aspirations for a world-class status. 

Cross-posted in Desicritics  

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2 Responses

  1. If that is introduced imagine the amount the govt. would have to pay for the road use for the protocol conveys of the netas every time they took to the roads to receive and send off their party leaders at the airport.

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