The increasing number of vehicles far exceeds the number of population increase in most part of the world. India has witnessed sharp increase in the number of vehicles in contrast with the growth of the population. The national population of Indian has doubled in last 30-35 years whereas the number of vehicles has increased many times around 20 times more than what existed three decades ago. This makes us think about the measures to make it sustainable in the long run. Most of the urban problems are caused by this increasing number of vehicles. The most prominent among them are air pollution, noise pollution, traffic congestion, high energy consumption etc.
Therefore, it is evident that we must have a comprehensive plan for tackling the menace of increasing vehicular population. There can be many processes and regulations to contain the number of increasing vehicles. One of the most recommended solutions is the introduction of public transport and mass transit system in all urban centres. Other can be limiting the number of vehicles registration, using congestion pricing, car-pooling, peak-hour charge on the private transport etc. To reduce the pollution caused by the ever-increasing vehicular population is the use of compressed natural gas (CNG), successfully implemented in Delhi, use of other alternate sources of energy which are less polluting than the conventional sources of energy like bio-diesel, ethanol, hydrogen and even water (An innovator in Pakistan has come out with this concept and he has demonstrated use of water as a fuel) but we have to think something more as our cities are already facing the crisis of drinking water. Some of the developed nations are successfully using the bio-diesel and ethanol for running pollution free diesel. USA, Canada and New Zealand are doing it successfully.
Spatial planning and integrated landuse planning has immense potential of reducing the dependence on the vehicles. The judicious planning of spaces for living, work and recreation can do wonders. This will help in reducing the travel demands which are mostly undertaken to meet the natural requirement of living, work and recreation. The concept of compact cities can be further explored to reduce the dependence on motor vehicles. The indirect result of compact cities should also be kept in mind like increased demand of energy, intensive use of existing resources and utilities.
"The present scenario in the developing world needs a comprehensive outlook and holistic planning approach based on the optimal resource utilization for the sustenance of the human civilization."
By Shashikant Nishant Sharma
Urban Planner and Consultant