What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change

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दलों का दलदल

(We are all trapped in the quicksand of political parties)

Elections have just concluded in 5 of the 30 states of India.  There has been a record turnout of youth and women voters this election season.  In Delhi alone, youth voters turned out in historical numbers pushing the total number of voters to 65% (the maximum before this was 61.8% in 1993).  While the allure of new political winds ushered in by the arrival of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) (The Common Man’s Party) may have driven some of the enthusiasm in a population beleaguered by poor governance and the false prophets of established political parties, let’s hope that these demographic shifts are here to stay.  And why shouldn’t youth be engaged?  After all, it is their future that is being whittled away by career politicians who are happy to sell the ecological wealth on which their livelihoods will depend.

So why do Indian political parties fail to acknowledge the need for environmental conservation in their campaigns? Article 48(A) of Part IV of the Indian constitution reads: “The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.”  In no political party’s manifesto is it apparent that the political class has thought clearly about the matter.  If we can thank anyone for the protection of any ounce of our nation’s ecological capital (from a legal/governance perspective) it is the Supreme Court which has been cited as the greenest court in the world.

Why the empty promises of 30% reduced electricity tariffs which will only further bleed our utilities dry and leave them with no revenue to innovate for the future much less provide reliable access?  Why promise 700 liters of free potable water when you have a fetid and dead river that flows through your city (and there’s hardly any ground water left)?  Why promise new sewage treatment plants when billions of dollars have been spent on sewage treatment plants already and while we still have over 50% of our untreated sewage making its way to the river?  Who needs “Statehood” for what should be the most easily governed unit in the whole Republic of India?  You want to set up child-friendly courts for crimes against children?  How about one that will ensure that these children have their right to life and livelihood protected by having a firm foundation (environment) in place by the time they grow up?  You want a monorail?  Did you forget about the ring rail that is hardly used?  How about refurbishing that and integrating it with the metro system (and continuing to build the Bus Rapid Transit)?  These populous promises mean nothing.  Meanwhile Delhi and India at large are headed nowhere, very fast.  Think about that the next time you are caught in traffic and choking on the ever-increasing fumes while mantri’s whiz past you in their luxury vehicles.

  By Supriya Singh and Kartikeya Singh


Commuters – including car owners – support the BRT overwhelmingly: finds random survey by CSE and Delhi Greens

  • A joint perception survey of commuters traveling on the BRT corridor, done by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and the Delhi-based student groups Delhi Greens and the Indian Youth Climate Network, has found overwhelming support for the BRT system.
  • Majority of commuters want BRT corridors in other parts of the city for better connectivity.
  • Surprise finding: contrary to general perceptions, a large majority of car and two-wheeler drivers surveyed have supported the BRT!

New Delhi, May 19, 2008: The much discussed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Delhi has received another thumbs up – this time, from its regular users. A joint random perception survey of commuters traveling on the capital’s first BRT corridor, done by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi Greens and the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN), has found overwhelming support for the corridor from pedestrians, cyclists, bus drivers and commuters and – surprisingly – also from car and two-wheeler drivers. The findings of the survey were released by CSE today. These findings will also be shared with the Delhi government.

Between April 30 to May 5, 2008, CSE and Delhi Greens volunteers fanned out daily on the corridor, randomly stopping and asking commuters what difference – positive or negative – was the BRT making to their daily commutes. Since there have been talks of scrapping the project, the surveyors also asked whether commuters wanted the BRT to continue.

‘Yes’ to BRT even from car drivers

Of the 1,500 people surveyed in this period, 55 per cent were bus commuters, 23 per cent were cyclists and pedestrians, 16 per cent were car and two-wheeler commuters and the rest constituted a mixed category of those using autos etc. The survey results say:

  • As much as 83 per cent of all commuters are happy with the dedicated lane system of BRT and want that the BRT system should be continued in the city.

  • The major support comes from bus commuters and pedestrians/cyclists — a whopping 88-91 per cent of these respondents said that they are happy with the BRT system and want that it should be extended to more areas of Delhi.

  • Contrary to popular belief, only 8 per cent of the car and two-wheeler commuters said that BRT should be scrapped and 73 per cent agreed that the project can be continued.

  • When asked whether they will shift from their personal vehicles to better, faster and high frequency buses equipped with AC and GPS running on the BRT corridor — 26 per cent of car and two-wheeler answered positively. However, they are seemingly reluctant to use the BRT corridor now because it extends for a mere 5.8 km. They are more willing to shift if its network covers most of the city’s roads and gets connected with the Metro

  • Many of car and two-wheeler commuters also said that jams on the MV lanes and at intersections should be reduced and more space should be allocated to them. (for the survey results, please visit www.cseindia.org).

  • Most commuters wanted the BRT corridor to be connected to the Delhi Metro and introduction of feeder buses on the corridor. There were also suggestions of cycles to be made available on rent on the stretch.

The CSE-Delhi Greens-IYCN survey shows that while there is an acknowledgement of the teething troubles that BRT is having, there is also overwhelming support for the system in the city. Commuting data from various agencies support the findings – they tell us that around 60 per cent of commuters on the corridor use buses, while cars actually carry less than 20 per cent of the people.

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