L-G calls for feasibility study on congestion tax

| | New Delhi

With an idea to combat the problems of traffic congestions, air pollution and to discourage private vehicles plying during peak hours, the authorities are mulling to impose congestion tax or Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system to discourage private vehicles during peak hours.

Addressing reporters, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had asked traffic and municipal corporation officials to study the feasibility of levying a congestion tax and implementing one-way traffic in Delhi NCR. “The Government is deliberating with experts and other stake-holders on a proposal to impose congestion tax on certain roads during peak hours to reduce traffic and pollution in the national Capital,” said Baijal.

The move is aimed at not only decongesting the streets, but also bringing down pollution levels. The congestion charge is one of the models adopted by European cities to address unwanted growth in the number of vehicles to control congestion on roads.

As per Transport department of Delhi, the total number of registered vehicles has touched 1.19 crore in 2017. There are 31,72,842 registered cars in the city. The traffic police has shortlisted 21 congested roads including Aurobindo Chowk and Andheria More, Nehru Place flyover to Modi Mills flyover, areas around Hauz Khas metro station on the Outer Ring Road, the ITO intersection, and parts of Mehrauli-Gurgaon road, Mathura Road and Pusa road that is fit for congestion tax in future.

The standing committee on urban development in a suggestion to the Urban Development Ministry had earlier stated to conduct Electronic road pricing (ERP) system and introduce pre-paid cards on pilot basis and study the results. With the number of vehicles increasing on roads this step is being seen by the lawmakers as an effort to reduce traffic jams on roads. “The committee recommends the Ministry to conduct pilot studies for 'electronic road pricing (ERP)' system for reducing traffic in highly congested areas of metropolitan and other big cities,” the standing committee on urban development said in its report 'Demand for Grants (2017-2018)'.

Singapore and London have introduced an electronic road pricing system where radio frequency identification device (RFID) tags are used to charge drivers on entering certain stretches. In Greater London, the scheme is implemented by tracking images captured by automatic number plate recognition cameras that help identify polluting vehicles.

Germany has a similar emissions zone where entry for polluting vehicles is banned. Singapore was the first city to implement ERP - a system where a smart card is installed in every vehicle with congestion charges automatically deducted.

Unable to find a clear line about the mode of congestion tax, the erstwhile Sheila Dikshit government had decided to conduct a study to levy/tax on congestion in the national Capital just after the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

A special task force appointed by the Delhi High Court had recommended the imposition of congestion tax (depending on locality) to restrict the number of private cars in the national Capital. The task force also advised transport department to carry out a feasibility report on congestion charge in Delhi.

The draft report on congestion tax, prepared by the Administrative Department, states that the congestion tax model has been there in place in many countries on   Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) theory  where an agency is selected to operate the system and all capital investments are made by that agency, which recovers its investment as percentage of revenue receipts.



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