Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Road widening and the environmentalists

Curious article in the DNA yesterday. The current government in Karnataka is trying its best to ease traffic woes in Bangalore. Alongwith the Metro construction going on in full swing, there is increased on better public transport and some means to alleviate traffic jams in Bangalore. Needless to say, this means road widening is imperative. The roads of Bangalore are choked or narrow or both and there is no way that the present roads can handle the ever increasing traffic.

So, it is not road widening that is the problem as the article makes it out to be. The problem is the ever increasing number of vehicles. So, road widening does not cause ill health as choked roads do. Given that there is no real way to reduce the number of vehicles, what is more polluting? A choked road with gridlocked vehicles and idling engines or traffic moving at a decent pace? Surely, you know it.

Yes, road widening will result in trees being cut. So, if these environmentalists could work on positive activism rather than opposing existing projects that might be of some help. See Bangalore from the air, as I often argue. There are no trees near houses - all the trees are in parks, roadsides, old campuses or in the cantonment. Why? To maintain a tree in the plot given the cost of real estate is impossible. So, it is not only road widening that results in the loss of green cover. Every house, apartment being built results in the same thing. And take any house, including the environmentalists - the result will be the same. No trees. And no rainwater harvesting too - this has been made compulsory in a recent law. Bangalore, seriously, needs a dose of environmentalism, but not this kind. We need positive activism rather than negative.

Environmentalists would do well to work with the government in improving public transport, increasing taxes on vehicles, increasing parking fees and coming up with other sustainable solutions instead of protesting and stopping existing development like our old son of the oil.

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