Monday, July 25, 2011

Letting rickshaws ply to hit Govt plan to decongest Chandni Chowk

Rakesh Ranjan | New Delhi

In a move that could put a spanner in the Government's plans to decongest the Chandni Chowk area, the governing body of the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering Centre) (UTTIPEC) has recommended plying of cycle rickshaws in the area. The recommendation of the technical body that approves all infrastructure projects in the city is contrary to the observation of the Delhi High Court that had justified the ban on cycle rickshaws last year. The observation of the court was on the basis of a scientific survey conducted by the Central Road Research Institute and Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd which was also approved by the Delhi Government.

It was decided in the meeting that as per the Cycle Rickshaw policy formulated by the Task Force Group under the Chief Secretary of Delhi and submitted to High Court, cycle rickshaws will have a right to ply on all arterial roads, including in Chandni Chowk. The UTTIPEC's observation is against the views of other stakeholders, including the Delhi Government and the Delhi Traffic Police that have been pressing for a ban on plying of cycle rickshaws in the area.

Traders in the Chandni Chowk area said as there is no control over cycle rickshaws, movement of the battery-operated buses have also become difficult in the area. The traders' association has also written to the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi against the decision. "The system of laning has been tried several times in the past several years and has failed on each occasion. Banning cycle rickshaws is the only solution to the congestion in Chandi Chowk," said Sanjay Bhargava, general secretary, Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal in a letter written to the Lieutenant-Governor.

The Delhi Traffic Police, too, said it was difficult to decongest Chandni Chowk without prohibiting cycle rickshaws. "In absence of a law, we cannot prosecute rickshaws for obstructing traffic movement," said Satyendra Garg, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic). Notably, in 2006, HUDCO and CRRI had conducted an on-the-spot survey and their report found that the main cause of congestion was rickshaws and on their recommendation to the Delhi Government, the Cabinet had decided to introduce CNG buses after stopping rickshaws. There is a High Court ban in force on plying of rickshaws in the area. 

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