The Economic Times (of the Times of India) reports that the Delhi Government has decided to implement a number of measures short of congestion charging to address growing congestion in the city.
Parking fees are to be increased, and enforcement of minimum emissions and safety standards of vehicles will be toughened significantly. The expectation is that this will remove a number of vehicles from the road, as well as having positive impacts on emissions and safety. The only problem is that this will undoubtedly target the lowest income owners of motor vehicles (who by Delhi standards are still middle income households).
Certainly this approach makes sense, as without the ability and willingness to effectively enforce laws against vehicle owners, it is doubtful that a Delhi congestion charge could be enforced either. A sustained effort over six months to fine or remove vehicles that don't meet laws on safety or emissions would help stem the growth in traffic.
On parking, it is also reasonable and relatively low cost to adopt robust policies on restrictions and pricing that will help traffic to flow freely and to let parking pricing be market led. Whilst Delhi may not yet be ready for the sort of radical parking pricing now seen on trial in San Francisco and Los Angeles, a focus on parking should be the key for the immediate future, although it will not be sufficient.
There are 6.5 million vehicles in Delhi today, a number that increases on average by about 1,000 a day (the report notes there were 562,000 vehicles in 1981). Ownership will continue to increase, and whilst public transport can be enhanced (and walking and cycling should not be neglected) and parking addressed, the fundamental problem of traffic congestion is demand exceeding supply, without the price instrument to manage it.
If Delhi can demonstrate that it can effectively enforce laws against vehicle owners on safety, emissions and parking, it shouldn't be hesitant about more detailed consideration of congestion pricing, even if it is likely to be the last policy instrument taken to help relieve traffic in the city.