A Multi-Stakeholder Discussion by ASSOCHAM, RWAs, AAP, BJP, Congress
Dilli Ki Soch, an event held in Delhi on 16th October 2019 called on policy makers, political leaders, experts and industry representatives to come together with the people of the city on one forum in the capital. The event saw participation of influential dignitaries and key decision makers including Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Manoj Tiwari from BJP, Deepak Sood, Secretary General of ASSOCHAM, Atul Goyal, CEO, URJA, to name a few. This forum was created in order to identify the challenges faced by the city today and then focus on realistic solutions to tackle these problems to make Delhi a sustainable city. The agenda of the forum was to navigate across the issues plaguing all segments of the economic threshold. We are summarizing top issues that were highlighted in the ‘Dilli Ki Soch’ event.
Air Pollution levels in New Delhi was identified as one of the priority areas to address by almost all stakeholder groups. ‘Despite meeting the 25% reduction in pollution levels achieved as on date, emission levels need to be reduced by another 65% to meet cleaner standards of air quality. Leveraging technology in vehicular and industrial sectors seems like the immediate strategy.’ said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy) at the think-tank Centre for Science and Environment.
Solid Waste Management was the other area that needs immediate attention. In a metropolitan city like New Delhi, landfill sites have already exceeded their capacity back in 2008 and as a result are subjected to contaminated ground water in and around the area. This issue poses a serious threat not only to the people directly impacted by this concern but also has a domino effect on other members of the society.
Similarly, the case of Storm Water Management and Desilting of drains is also plaguing Delhi’s sustainability prospects. Most of the drains are polluted with sewage as it is being drained illegally. Even storm water drainage outlets, which are supposed to be clean, are contaminated with sewage in some areas because of the inadequate infrastructure. Clogged water-gates in many areas, particularly due to solid waste, is also commonplace.
Land Encroachment is another area of concern as unlawful occupation of land is rampant in Delhi. This is especially prevalent amongst the street vendors and illegal encroachers who unlawfully occupy land in vast numbers. This compromises the pathways built for the pedestrians making it unsafe and cluttered. Furthermore, this hampers the on-going traffic leading to navigational issues and congestion of the arterial roads.
Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, reckoned that one of the major issues to be tackled is the congestion on the Delhi roads. He claims that a project for the redesigning of Delhi roads is in the pipeline. A key issue which he wants to tackle is avoiding the traffic bottlenecks caused due to the merging of wider roads into singular lanes. In the immediate horizon, Mr. Kejriwal noted that 3,000- 4,000 private buses will be rolled out in order to aid the existing infrastructure.
Founder-CEO, Mr. Alok Raj Gupta was also invited at the event. He emphasized on the need to evaluate efforts made in each of the aforementioned pain-points through focused audits. Additionally, future efforts must include people for effective implementation of policies.
Each of the top issues highlighted have cascading effects on the wellbeing of nearly 20 millions people. These issues are big impediments in achieving Sustainable Development Goals in Delhi.
It is great to see different political party members coming together on this and we need more such politicians who can drop their indifferences for a greater cause.
However, there are some points government need to consider in order to make a serious impact.
Air and soil pollution also needs to be tackled by enforcing policies on public smoking and selling of chewing tobaccos. Government can not turn a blind eye to these just because they generate revenue. Health is the greatest wealth.
Secondly, encroachment in Delhi is more by residents of Delhi than by vendors. There are no pedestrian footpaths in major south Delhi colonies like GK1,2, Saķet, etc. Only Lutyens Delhi has proper footpaths.
So we need a wider lense to tackle issues mentioned and see beyond money and think sustainability.