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From August, the Tata Motors plant in Gujarat will be able to take production to a level where it would be easy to drive a Nano without any booking. While its a commendable efforts and a great fight back from Tata Motors after the West Bengal debacle, It got me thinking in the other direction.

Tata Nano is an opportunity for the middle class families to own a car. An opportunity for a family of 4 to travel together and in comfort. But Nano would certainly increase competition forcing others to lower cost in turn making more families to own a car.

But then are we ready to absorb so many car in the current infrastructure?

It takes me an hour to cross a 14 kilometer stretch from office to home and invariably there is a traffic jam every evening. Imagine a thousand cars more. It means more traffic jam and more frustrated drivers. Where’s the joy of owning a car?

The smoke and pollution caused by these extra cars on the road will contribute to the already polluted cities. Although these cars have adhered to the strict pollution control guidelines, it remains to be seen if they can reduce the carbon emission or maybe even maintain it at the current level.

One cannot blame the car makers only. They as a business have seen the potential in the fact that every Indian has the need to travel comfortably. India is still a long way off from developing a fine-tuned mass-transit system.

At the end of the day what most people are looking for a comfortable ride rather than owning a car. They would rather travel sitting in a train/bus comfortably than taking the efforts to drive themselves. Atleast I would be looking at a comfortable ride to home or office.

But the question remains, what is more needed, more cars or a better public transport system. Logic says a better public transport system high on efficiency, cost, speed and comfort. Public transport does make economical sense.

We are still a long way off from cleaner fuel vehicle like hybrid and electricity which harms the environment lesser. But developing a better public transport does require commitment, efforts, time and primarily money.

Will it be too late or will we see an era of countless cars stuck in traffic jam. The future does look bleak for now. Only science will tell.

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