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Public Transport system of Delhi

                           Kamal Kumar Niyogi

Illusion and reality

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has emerged an ardent executer of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s pro-corporate economic and industrial policies in the sphere of public life of the city.

Dikshit, during her three consecutive terms as the chief minister of Delhi, has deliberately and arrogantly withdrawn state’s budgetary support from almost all essential services like power distribution, water supply, health, public distribution sytem and public transportation system to facilitate corporate interests.

Sheila government’s pro-corporate privatisation drive of essential services has not only destroyed the sense of collective belonging of people to these but worse it has left them helpless. A cusory glance of her transport policy makes its anti-common people nature evident.

Indeed, the present transport policy of Delhi government has been designed and executed to serve the buisiness interests of certain multinational companies and the Tata group and to fulfill the aspirations and requirements of the rising middle class of the National Capital Region (NCR).

Delhi Metro Rail and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC)’s low floor buses and its routes have been so designed as to connect commercial and industrial centres of NCR to facilitate corporate interests.

The metro routes from Jahangirpuri to Huda City Centre, Rohini to Dilshad Garden and Dwarka to Noida City Centre are clear proof of the intention of Sheila government’s public transport policy.

The current low floor bus routes and the controversial BRT routes are also designed and executed to connect posh colonies with the commercial centres of NCR. Residential areas of marginalised working people have been blatantly neglected in respect of public transport system.

The North East district of Delhi, located across the Yamuna, is home to the city’s over two million marginalised working people. But these people, a substantial part of Delhi’s working class population and chief drivers of its handsome economic growth each year, have been deprived of any type of public transport facilities by the Sheila government.

Anybody visiting the few connecting points of North East Delhi like Bhajanpura, Khajoori Chowk, Mori Gate and ISBT would fail to miss how millions of these marginalised working people become compelled every day to face unpredictable hardships because of non-availability of public conveyances.

The working class people and students who reside in Northeast Delhi cannot reach their work places and educational institutions located several kilometres away in old or New Delhi areas. They spend the better part of their commuting time, both in the mornings as well as evenings, waiting for any conveyance. For bus services to these areas not only insufficient but also poorly regulated.

It would seem that most development funds of East Delhi Vikas Board and other funds from the state and central governments have been used in the posher localities of the area and in the electoral constituencies of Sandeep Dikshit, an MP from the area who is also the son of the chief minister of Delhi, and senior ministers in the Delhi government Dr. A.K. Walia and Arvinder Singh Lovely, to influence vote banks for the ruling party.

The recent ambitious proposal of the city government to construct monorail from Trilokpuri to Shastri Park via Patparganj–Shakarpur–Laxmi Nagar areas is also designed with the same hidden intention of the Sheila government to influence the city’s rising middle class while ignoring its working classes.

It is a very serious concern for the people of this vast neglected area of Delhi that none of the political parties are ready to raise this issue in the Delhi legislative assembly or at other platforms to stop Sheila government’s gross discrimination of the marginalised majority of the North east district of Delhi.

Perhaps, there is no alternative left before the people of the area than make this an issue of people’s movement for equitable distribution of public resources for the common men and women of the city state.