Thursday, October 2, 2014

Why blame only cops? System needs overhaul

Hindustan Times, Chandigarh HT, 2nd October 2014

- Navdeep Asija

There is tendency to blame the traffic police for road crashes. That instant reaction is based on the fact that the police are the only department that interacts with the common people every day on roads. But, in our system, there are over 20 departments responsible for overall road safety.

We must note that our eight decade-old legal system for road safety is designed to find faults with humans, not with authorities. Besides the driver, the vehicle and surrounding environment are also responsible for road safety. Research shows that responsibility in 54-62% cases is of road infrastructure and environment, 28-34% is of faulty vehicle and design; and 8-12% human error.

Ideally, a safe road is like a mother who informs, warns, controls, guides and even forgives errant behavior. At present, our road infrastructure punishes us.

As for Chandigarh, the administration a few years ago widened spaces for rotaries along with creation of wider slip roads for smooth flow of traffic. This made dedicated fast-lane rotaries. Rotaries/traffic circles are traffic-calming devices used to slow down the traffic. So, this technically wrong move made negotiation of traffic at rotaries miserable. Thankfully, remedial steps were taken by installing speed tables and other traffic-calming measures.

As for human errors, let me cite an example. In 2012, of the 12 female accident death victims in Chandigarh, five were on scooter and died because of not wearing a helmet. Rules say helmet is not mandatory for Sikh women; but it is difficult to identify women on scooter on the basis of religion. How do you tell? I would reserve comment on such political laws related to safety. But it is high time communities too woke up against unscientific laws.

From vehicle safety to road design, planning or in execution, police are not involved in any step. In all three conditions of road crash — pre-crash, in-crash and post-crash — police have minimal role to play. The buck has to stop somewhere but certainly not only with the traffic police. Terming road crashes as 'accidents' is also wrong in a sense. The meaning of 'accident' is 'something unavoidable'. But road crash is not an act of God. Even the World Health Organization in 2004 adopted the slogan, 'Road safety is no accident'.

Kids zipping on roads is expensive vehicle is not a matter of pride. It's a shame. Songs like 'Tere liye hi toh signal tod-tad ke' reflect our society. Parents must not feel proud if their son or daughter starts driving at the age of 14-15 with a fake licence. In the case of a crash, your kid might survive but it is possible another poor mother might lose her child! At one level, rather than blaming cops, we could be thankful to them for maintaining a minimum level of road safety in our country despite limited resources.

Writer is technical adviser to Punjab State Transport Society, and founder of Ecocabs-India. Views expressed are his personal.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fazilka entrepreneur's 'debt-free farmer' model discussed in UN forum

Dinesh K Sharma

FAZILKA: A business model enabling small and marginal farmers to hire implements for farm operations -- brainchild of a Fazilka-based entrepreneur -- was showcased in an event of United Nations in Indonesia recently.

Vikram Ahuja, proprietor of Zamindara Farm Solutions, was invited for the conference of UN's Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) at Sarpong in Indonesia on September 11, where he discussed the model that helps small peasants to use hi-tech implements without the need to buy them.

On his return from the UN conference, Vikram said his "debt-free farmer" model was discussed by delegates as the event's main thrust was to make agriculture viable for small and marginal farmers.

"Smaller peasants are the worst hit in Punjab, which is the breadbasket of the country. They are forced to spend huge amount of money on buying implements despite having meagre landholdings, which puts a huge financial burden on them. Most of them are unable to pay off the debt as their earnings are not enough due to smaller land holdings. To help such farmers, we formed a company that provides implements like tractors, harrows, JCBs (excavators), rotovators, seed sowers, harvesters, fodder choppers and many more on nominal rent. We hope this model will be emulated across Punjab," said Ahuja.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

In Punjab, Muktsar, Fazilka worst hit by rains

BATHINDA/MUKTSAR: With large tracts of cotton and paddy fields submerged under rain water in several districts, farmers and administration fear that crop damage would be very high this year.

Muktsar and Fazilka districts are the worst affected where huge areas of paddy and cotton fields are submerged. According to agriculture department officials, around 40,000 acres of cotton and 15,000 acres of paddy in Muktsar, over 40,000 acres of cotton and paddy in Fazilka and around 15,000 acres in Mansa were under water on Monday. The state drainage department is trying to pump out water from the fields.

Chances of further rain on Monday evening triggered panic among farmers. Efforts to drain out water have not yielded the desired results till now.

It is feared that over 15% cotton crop could be damaged and more rains could aggravate the situation.

Muktsar deputy commissioner Jaskiranjit Singh said efforts are being made to drain out water from fields and minimize the loss.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Smart Cities in India

Hoping Smart Cities would also transform their residents as smart & responsible citizen, who would love to work more towards their duties than their rights like Right to litter, deface or damage...

To me the definition of Smart city would be in which "a Woman alone can come back to her home safely by using public transport, even after finishing her work during midnight hours ".. This one aspect will cover all aspects of "Good n All Inclusive Cities", like crime free, better transport, gender equality, social inclusion and being environment friendly and sustainable..


Friday, August 29, 2014

20 Years of being GENCONIAN:

20 Years of being GENCONIAN: Probably 20 years back this was the time when a batch of 198 people entered into this royal institution and got the privilege to be the part of royal "Genconian" family. Those four years were as if we all lived one life together. Couple of days back I met Gurwinder (Bagga), a batch mate of mine at ISB Campus, Mohall and my instant reaction was "oye saliya tu ithe kive". My reaction towards him was pretty natural, without realizing this fact that he is Associate Director, Career Advancement Services there. Probably this is a beauty of "being genconian", which helped to keep all of us humble and together.
Entire Genconian clan was divided into five broad categories "Pendu Quota", "Day Scholar", "Delhi Wale","Bhappe" and "Group Wale" . Combination of all was popularly known as "JANTA". Amongst them minority status communities were "Day Scholar", "Delhi Wale" and "Bhappe". For girls, we had only one respectable classification system and that was "BHABHI", which somehow showed our commitment and respect towards them at that time. The minority status communities always remained on our targets because of their close association with "Bhabhi" community. "Tea" was our official drink and that too from "Jatt Tea Stall". "Land Line" phone in girl's hostel was the only technical source of romance and communication for us. Unlike today, technology never supported us and that was the reason we had only one" in house love affair" in entire batch of 198. Speaking in English was treated it as a "serious criminal offence", as if we are not in GNE but in France. Cochran boiler is still mystery to all of us and I had been informed by my seniors that top wire on high transmission electric towers is used to facilitate birds to sit…. Difficult to pen down those beautiful feelings. Thank you Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana for making us what we all are today…salute to the spirit of "being genconian". 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

नई सोच का "नवदीप"

Nai Soch Ka Navdeep

Satya Swadesh, 24th August 2014, National Chandigarh Edition

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Government Primary School, Dona Nanka and New Salemshah

Brand Fazilka : "ਦੇਹ ਸਿਵਾ ਬਰੁ ਮੋਹਿ ਇਹੈ ਸੁਭ ਕਰਮਨ ਤੇ ਕਬਹੂੰ ਨ ਟਰੋਂ ॥"
Meet my two friends and the most dedicated teachers from our Fazilka regionLavjeet Grewal and Rakeysh Kamboj..their work can be seen in the pictures below..these are the pictures of the two Government Primary Schools, Dona Nanka and New Salemshah respectively....last two villages on India Pakistan Border...and what they have created in their schools is simply outstanding...24 x 7 power backup, RO water..toilets for boys and girls... their government schools are far better in terms of infrastructure and results...e.g. Dona Nanka Primary School kids won 17 awards out of best 20 in the entire state..people in nearby villages have actually stopped going to private schools, from their own pockets they have made beautiful campus and office...(Red is Dona Nanka and Brown back wall is New SalemShah)...they are certainly in the 1% category of those government teachers, who believes in delivery than protesting...i never found them discussing their promotion, transfers and increments unlike many others....then themselves never climbed water tanks but made their students on the top of the world....they have created all from the same set of resources which are meant for everyone.....Hats off to you..

"Irade nek ho to, sapne bhi sakar hote hai..
agar sachchi lagan ho to,raaste aasan hote hai"

Will introduce you with few more of our champion teachers, who are creating miracles in this border town.....

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

More Bikes on Our Roads Actually Make Them Safer

Attention, drivers: You might want to think twice before flipping the bird at that morning cycling group for slowing down your commute. In fact, you should probably thank them.

study published in the April issue of Accident Analysis & Prevention suggests that more bikes make roads safer for cyclists and motorists — a finding that could have national implications as more and more Americans hop on two wheels. "Improving the streets to better accommodate bicycles may enhance safety for everyone," said Wesley Marshall, an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado Denver and co-author of the study.

Marshall and other CU Denver researchers honed in on the city of Boulder, where 12 percent of residents ride bikes, one of the highest rates in the country. Their goal? To create a safety performance function (SPF) for the city's bikes — a mathematical model of the relationship between the frequency of crashes and the major factors related to them — that could inform traffic safety laws and infrastructure. (SPFs exist in a number of cities for vehicles, but not for bikes.)

The researchers focused on the intersections throughout Boulder, where more than two-thirds of crashes occur between drivers and cyclists. They compared collision data from police reports to city data on the number of bikes wheeling through the intersections each day.

Their findings? The chance of collision actually decreased with more cyclists. Specifically, intersections that saw more than 200 bicycles a day had "the largest safety benefits," Marshall said.

The number of people who pedal to work in the U.S. jumped 60 percent over the last decade.

The reasons for the trend aren't entirely clear — yet. Marshall and his colleagues think it could be due to "safety in numbers," the theory — and common Mom refrain — that being part of a large group makes you less likely to be part of a collision or other mishap. A group of bicyclists tends to be easier to spot than lone individuals, alerting drivers who are then more likely to take extra precautions. Indeed, earlier studies proposed that when drivers expect to encounter a large number of cyclists, they're more apt to glance over their shoulder before making a right turn, for example.

Or there's the possibility that cyclists simply gravitate toward safer streets. The team plans to unravel the underlying causes in future studies.

Although the researchers' SPF applies only to Boulder, their method for creating the model "can and should be applied and tested everywhere," especially amid today's biking boom, they wrote. The number of people who pedal to work in the U.S. jumped 60 percent over the last decade, according to the Census Bureau.

The study doesn't prove that more bikes are directly responsible for safer streets, but there does appear to be a link. And there's one strategy for boosting ridership — and hopefully road safety as well: creating protected bike lanes. A recent National Institute for Transportation and Communities study of bike lanes in Portland, San Francisco, Austin, Chicago and Washington, D.C. found that ridership increased an average of 75 percent within a year of installing such lanes. Pedal on.

Source: Ozy

NB: Press Cutting Service

This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat

Friday, May 30, 2014

High court returns Raahgiri reins to organizers

GURGAON: The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon to allow the original team of NGOs and citizens' groups associated with Raahgiri Day to organize the weekly event without "insisting on deposit of any advertisement fee/charges or prior approval".

The instruction was issued by a special division bench of justices Surya Kant and Ajay Tewari in open court last week as an aside to an ongoing PIL hearing, after the main petitioner in the case, Navdeep Asija, brought up the matter of Raahgiri Day and the MCG's recent move to take on the role of the event's organizer.

The interim order issued by the high court, a copy of which is with TOI, states: "We direct the Municipal Corporation, Gurgaon, to permit the NGOs, namely, 'Peddal Yatri', 'India Cycle Service', 'EMBARQ India', 'I am Gurgaon' and 'Road Safety Officers', to organize 'Raahgiri' programme in Gurgaon on Sundays without insisting them for the deposit of any advertisement fee/charges or prior approval."

"I drew the court's attention to the show-cause notice issued by the MCG on May 5, 2014, to the Raahgiri Day organizers. The bench said that the MCG has been directed to support Raahgiri Day, and also to provide all the approvals and necessary support required to the organizers," Navdeep Aseeja told TOI.

The MCG's show-cause notice effectively withdrew organizing rights from the core group of Raahgiri Day associates, although it was addressed only to EMBARQ India. The notice stated that "prior permissions" are mandatory to obtain "if any advertisement has to be put up" around the venues, and that it was also deemed necessary for the organizers to deposit an "appropriate government fee with the Municipal Corporation". The notice concluded by instructing the addressee to "not organize this event till further intimation by the district authorities in the matter".

According to Asija's counsel, advocate A P S Shergill, the high court's new directive virtually gives the green light to the original organizers to continue running the event as before on the community-initiative model, which was reportedly lauded by the bench. "The honourable bench said that the NGOs which started this event should be allowed to organize it without any interference from the district authorities," said Shergill.

The MCG commissioner, Praveen Kumar, said on Thursday evening that he was yet to see the official order. "I have not seen the exact order, and won't be able to comment on that. Let me get some clarification on this first," Kumar told TOI. He said that the original team of organizers would be allowed to play a part in putting together Raahgiri Day, as per the directive of the high court. "They will certainly be included in this event. But they will not be the sole runners of the show, as was the case in the past. Their inclusion doesn't have to come at the cost of the exclusion of the government agencies," Kumar said.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Punjab and Haryana high court asks govt to draw up mobility plan for cities

Times of India, December 13, 2013
GURGAON: The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed government agencies in Haryana to work out a comprehensive mobility plan for cities, a shot in the arm for Gurgaon's Raahgiri Day movement that has pioneered the campaign for non-motorized transport in India.

In its order, a special bench of Justices Surya Kant and Ajay Tewari emphasized the urban mobility plan must be workable and must effectively "address the problems of newly-developed urban areas as well as the old townships and cities".

The bench agreed with P Raghvendra Rao, principal secretary, urban local bodies, Haryana, that there was urgent need for such a plan and directed the authorities concerned to hold a meeting under the chairmanship of the chief secretary in the coming weeks. The meeting, according to the order, is to be "attended by all principal secretaries and heads of departments", and is to be held "before the next date of hearing", which is in February next year.

This will be of particular significance to a city like Gurgaon, where an integrated mobility plan already exists, although the prescriptions made in this document are yet to be implemented. Analysts say a legal push is more likely to make Gurgaon's decision-makers act and take the necessary steps towards upgrading the non-motorized infrastructure here. "This was a special bench of the high court, with justices Surya Kant and Ajay Tewari, which deals with issues related to non-motorized transport. The bench directed both the states of Haryana and Punjab to form a committee under the chief secretaries and formulate a comprehensive mobility plan. The authorities were basically told to come out with a policy for the handling of non-motorized transport. This will have a special bearing on places like Gurgaon, where a plan already exists," said Navdeep Asija, an expert in sustainable transport who was present at the court on the day of hearing.

According to HUDA administrator Praveen Kumar, a part of the existing mobility plan - which is titled the 'Integrated Mobility Plan for Gurgaon-Manesar Urban Complex' - has already reached the implementation stage. "And the rest of it has been taken into the agenda. The implementation work is definitely going to happen. I haven't seen the latest order. But we've already had a detailed meeting under the chairmanship of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) head Bhure Lal about the integrated mobility plan for Gurgaon, and we have figured out the steps that we now have to take," Kumar told TOI.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

PSEB declares Class 12 results; Muskan Verma of Fazilka tops with 99.56% marks

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 11, 2014

Muskan Verma of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Fazilka, has topped the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) exams for Class 12 in non-medical stream with 99.56 percent marks. She scored 448 out of 450 marks.
Daisy Garg of Sprigdale's Public Senior Secondary School, Sangrur, bagged the second position in the state with 98.22 percent marks, while Charu of GTB Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Malout, secured the third position with 98 percent.
The overall pass percentage of the board is 84.42 percent as compared to 78.97 in 2013.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Illegal hoardings: HC summons Haryana roadways GM, reporter

Hindustan Times, 3rd May 2014, Chandigarh Edition
Ignored orders of not allowing hoardings by side of roads in Panchkula

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday summoned Haryana roadways general manager Rohtash Kumar for violation of court orders of not allowing hoardings by the side of roads in Panchkula.

The court also summoned a vernacular reporter for explanation on the next date, May 30, about the allegations of road safety exper t Navdeep Asija that the reporter was trying to manage him and had also published misleading a news report on April 19.
Asija on Friday submitted in the court headed by justice Rajive Bhalla that the newspaper report described that the measurement of roundabouts in Panchkula by him (Asija) were wrong. Asija was earlier directed by the high court to carry out a study on advertising sites in around 18 cities and submit his report.
Asija submitted that the wrong facts were produced in news in order to derail the ongoing process for some specific and vested interests.
He informed the court that there was an apparent connivance between Ashok, proprietor of advertising company Taksh Media, and the reporter.
He also added that the reporter used to call him time and again to get the final copy of the report about the survey of advertising sites.

Asija further alleged that the reporter was earlier working with an English newspaper (not Hindustan Times) and it was due to the constant unethical practices that he was expelled from the newspaper. He prayed for taking action against the reporter and the newspaper for publishing an unverified article.
The petitioner Bhupinder Singh had highlighted the issue by placing on record photographs of various neon boards and hoardings facing the highways and main roads put up by the authorities in Gurgaon in blatant violation of the Supreme Court as well as the high court directions, which were one of the causes for distraction of drivers and road accidents.
A number of advertising companies had later moved the court that if their advertisements put after tendering process were to be removed then they should be allotted alternate site.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Punjab, Haryana asked to give details of mobility plan for MCs

The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Punjab as well as Haryana governments to inform the court about their comprehensive mobility plans for various municipal corporations and the funds allocated for various projects.

The special division bench comprising justices Surya Kant and Ajay Tewari made it clear that if the states fail to comply court orders their chief secretaries, finance secretaries and secretaries of urban development would have to remain present on the next date of hearing. The court was hearing a case pertaining to the introduction of eco-friendly cycle rickshaws and consideration of vehicle-free zones in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

Annoyed with repeated affidavits filed by both the state governments in the court without going into the details of the matter, the court said, “The impression given is as if you are obliging the high court. Whom are you be-fooling?”

In case of Punjab, the court observed that the state government had forwarded comprehensive mobility plans for four municipal corporations, including Amritsar and Jalandhar, to the Centre for seeking 80% financial assistance. But the court said that state government’s reply was not satisfactory.

It was directed that the Punjab government should come out with minute details of funds allocated for these corporations and how such budget should be spent in the financial year 2014-15 on various plans. The court also passed the same orders in case of Haryana.

Appearing in the case, road safety expert Navdeep Asija gave an example of the Sirsa city where due to initiative taken by the deputy commissioner, 90 eco-cabs or lightweight rickshaws had been introduced to ease out traffic to some extent.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

EC transfers 3 DCs, 1 Commissioner, 4 SSPs in Punjab

The Election Commission today transferred three Deputy Commissioners, one Commissioner of Police and four Senior Superintendents of Police in Punjab. The DCs of Sangrur, Fazilka and Patiala districts have been replaced, an EC official here said, without producing any reason for the reshuffle.

The EC also ordered transfer of Ludhiana's Commissioner of Police, he said adding the SSPs of Ferozepur, Moga, Fazilka, and Mansa districts too had been replaced.
As per an order of the EC, Kavita Singh, IAS, has beenm posted as new Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, Karuna Raju, IAS as Deputy Commissioner, Fazilka, and Priyank Bharti, IAS as Deputy Commissioner, Patiala.

Sanjeev Kalra, IPS has been posted as new Commissioner of Police, Ludhiana, he said. Rahul S, IPS, has been posted as new SSP Ferozepur while S Bhupati, IPS, as SSP Moga, Jagdale Nilambari Vijay, IPS, as SSP Fazilka, and Bikram Pal Singh Bhatti as SSP Mansa.