Sunday, March 30

Creating expensive cities

Now that tamasha on the toll road to Gurgaon is over, I have been using that more frequently instead of the MG Road. Today it struck me while driving from Delhi to Gurgaon that it is cheaper to live in Delhi as far as the toll road pricing goes. For example I do not have to pay anything to use the toll road to go to Vasant Vihar, Vasant Kunj or the airport (Domestic), if I am living in Delhi. Whoever thought of this silly system?

As it is since petrol is cheaper in Delhi compared to other metros, I start off with and advantage of at least 5000 bucks ( 30 km per day @ 10km per litre) per year if I compare myself with a guy using a similar car in Mumbai where petrol is 5 rupees more expensive. Also driving in Kolkata and Mumbai makes you spend more fuel in traffic jams.

Now compare Delhi and Gurgaon. The toll road may have made things easier but how come people living on one side have to pay for access to a common facility - the airport? Technically speaking the airport is closer to Gurgaon than most parts of Delhi and yet people living in Gurgaon are subsiding my free ride if I stay in Delhi.

The list goes on. In Gurgaon, water is expensive and so is electricity. And yet this does not ensure that you have uninterrupted power supply. For that you have to pay higher. Somehow it is assumed that in certain localities people can pay more for the same public utilities. And even with all the money collected, the street lights do not work - just like in Delhi.

The other example is the upcoming Metro in Gurgaon which is going to be costlier to use compared to the Delhi Metro. Why is this so? Are they using a a better technology than Delhi Metro? Is it going to be underground?

Ok let us assume that people have to pay more for new facilities. But there is nothing new that I am paying for going by this PIL that was filed against the Gurgaon Toll road:

(The) toll levy is illegal as the highway was built on the already existing Delhi-Jaipur Highway and a separate toll road has not been built.... the government's move to charge tax and putting a financial burden amounted to an infringement of the fundamental right of free access...It is not as if new land was procured for construction of the new highway. As the free access road has been taken away, it behoves that we be provided equivalent commuting facilities free of cost...

If you did not notice, unlike the NOIDA toll bridge, this is not a new road. This is just a wider road with some new flyovers. And somehow they have convinced us to pay for it. What if you had to pay to use flyovers in Delhi?

Unless we take a serious look at how we want to spend money on
infrastructure, this trend will continue. We will pay money for a new improved version of the same thing. And the sight of uniformed men handling us back some change as we pass the toll gate, will somehow make us feel we are now upwardly mobile. Ready for the 21st century...

For more rants on Gurgaon click here...

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