Friday, September 14, 2012

User Pays - Pay Toll or Pay a Decongestion Charge

The drama about the toll road in Delhi-Gurgaon is very amusing (Fortunately, I do not have to travel on it). However, I do spend Rs. 74 for each trip on toll to Ropar at two toll booths, which is about 15% of the cost of petrol.

Curiously, 15% of the travel time is about the minimum time I spend at the toll booths. The travel time is 15 minutes from the first toll gate to the IIT Campus. The usual 2 minutes at the toll booths does occasionally stretch to 10 minutes.

Wouldn't it be better if 10% or even 15% was added to the fuel price and used as 'road usage charges'? I would definitely welcome it and I am sure that people will get used to it fairly quickly.

Money collected does not have to be used only for highways and roads. A fair proportion of it could and should be used to subsidize public transport. It can make sure that public transport is available on routes and at frequencies which may seem uneconomical but which would encourage people to have the option of using public transport instead of own transport.

If the use of public transport usage increases, we can rename the 'road usage charge' to a very welcome 'road de-congestion charge'!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cooking Gas Connection Transfer and Rs 5 Stamp Paper

An interesting coincidence - I was reading about Charles Babbage and was fascinated by his creation of the foundations of Operations Research:

Undaunted, he applied his new method to the analysis of the postal system of his day, and proved that the cost of accepting and assigning a value to every piece of mail according to the distance it had to travel was far more expensive than the cost of transporting it. The British Post Office boosted its capabilities instantly and economically by charging a flat rate, independent of the distance each piece had to travel--the "penny post" that persists around the world to this day.
While the British government saw sense a hundred years ago in transforming the postal rates, Indian government continues to thrust stamp papers on us mindlessly, whose absence of value is visible even without operations research.

I need a stamp paper to state that my father has expired and that the gas connection may be transferred into my mother's name.

I need another stamp paper to state  that the original documents for allotment of a gas connection, from over 30 years ago, cannot be located.

In each case, I need to get them notarised  by a Notary Public.

Each stamp paper is worth Rs. 5. It has to be bought from specified locations.

I am certain the cost of producing and selling that paper - as each paper sale has to be documented - has got to be more than the sale price.

The cost of procuring it is certainly much more than Rs. 5 for me and I am not even including the cost of the time spent.

I can see some notional value in notarisation in case my mother disowns signing the documents.

I have not been able to think of any meaningful benefit from the stamp paper even by a Telgi. The value is just not high enough to even counterfeit!

Ah, the hope of a paperless bureaucracy! Who knows - as in Pete Seeger's wonderful song - Adam's children might surprise us all :)