Wednesday, 29 July 2015


A report was published in the newspaper on 17th April, 2013 on the proposal of the Urban Development Ministry of Central Government to introduce Congestion Tax to be levied on the vehicles moving in the central areas of large cities. The intention is to reduce congestion in the central areas with acute traffic congestion affecting movement of vehicles , causing delay, air pollution, risk to pedestrians, etc. 

For this purpose, it is necessary to fix the boundaries of the area in which congestion tax is to be levied. An Origin -Destination Survey is to be conducted by interview of the vehicles moving in the central area to know the route taken from origin to destination. From this data it is possible to know how many long distance commuters move in the central area , the roads used by them, purpose of the journey, etc.

 If this data is analyzed it is possible to know how many vehicles may take alternate routes avoiding central area. The traffic volumes, from Traffic Volume Survey on all busy roads of the central area and environs , plotted on the map will show concentration of traffic. It is also possible to get traffic volumes, from Traffic Management Centre of the Traffic Police, which may also be plotted on the map. The two maps are to be compared and boundaries of the heavy traffic concentration area identified for the purpose of levy of Congestion Tax . 

In case of Bangalore , it is mentioned that earlier there were two central areas in the City; City Central Area and the Cantonment Central Area separated by Cubbon Park and public buildings. Later, expansion of commercial areas merged the two central areas to become a single bigger central area

It is necessary to suggest to the vehicle owners the alternate routes to be taken to avoid the central area where congestion tax is to be paid. The alternate routes to be suggested should be wider roads and not narrow roads. Calm residential areas should be avoided in selecting alternate routes. The additional distance to be covered in the alternate routes should not be more than 15%. If it is more than this limit , vehicles will be forced to use the central area and pay the congestion tax.

The intention to reduce traffic congestion by levy of congestion tax is good. But, it is difficult to achieve the objective in view of the following points : 

To avoid payment of congestion tax , the vehicles may not take round about routes involving longer travel distances and additional consumption of petrol/diesel. Long distance commuters will pay the congestion tax as another tax burden. The traffic intensity in the already congested roads in the central area will continue to increase in spite of levy of congestion tax due to further increase in private vehicles, intense development of vehicles attracting commercial buildings, etc. 

People living in the central area will have to pay congestion tax regularly. Why they should be taxed as they have nothing to do with the increase in number of private vehicles?. Government will have to consider this point and exempt them from paying congestion tax by issue of passes to them. 

To enforce levy of congestion tax at the entry points of the central area , officials to collect the levy / ticket vending machines are to be organized. Corruption is not ruled out in the enforcement of the scheme.

Levy of congestion tax will not reduce traffic congestion as expected. Government/agency may get income from congestion tax. The long term solution for reducing traffic congestion is to implement at the earliest the Metro Rail network which is badly delayed by BMRCL, a public agency. If the project was entrusted to a foreign company experienced in metro rail work on PPP basis , the complete net work would have been in operation by now. It was possible to save the heavy public investment to the extent of many thousands of crore rupees. However, it is necessary to complete the metro rail network quickly and take metro routes in the remaining heavy traffic corridors not covered. 

Sri. Siddaramiah, the new Chief Minister of Karnataka , who took charge on 13th may, 2013 mentioned that it is necessary to introduce Mono Rail also. It is a very good intention of the new Chief Minister in the interest of solving problems of commuters. Mono Rail network as a feeder service to Metro Rail network ,and as a rapid transit system in the corridors not covered by metro rail net work may be introduced on PPP basis. The proposal for Mono Rail for Bangalore already worked out may be reviewed and a decision taken early. 

Hope, Government with an active and public service minded Chief Minister like Sri. Siddaramiah , will take early action to introduce Mono Rail in addition to Metro Rail for proper transportation facility in Bangalore.

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