Saturday, March 3, 2012

HC to UT: Why not make Sector 17 a vehicle-free zone? : Car Free and NMT Movement in Punjab Haryana and Chandigarh

Indian Express, 3 March 2012

Why not make Sector 17 a vehicle-free zone after 4 pm? Raising this query, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday, asked Advocate Sanjay Kaushal, senior standing counsel for Chandigarh Administration to seek instructions in this regard.

Aimed at making Sector 17 a pedestrian-friendly zone, a division bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Ajay Tewari made it clear that the time has come to pass directions to make certain areas in Sectors vehicle-free zones. Sanjay Kaushal sought time to seek instructions in this regard to start the experiment. The bench suggested that no vehicles should be allowed to enter Sector 17 market after 4 pm from Lyon's restaurant (from Sector 15 side) to Sahab Singh (from Sector 18 side).

The development took place during the resumed hearing of a PIL arising of a suo motu notice taken by the High Court on a news item published by The Indian Express, which had highlighted the significance of eco-cabs and environment-friendly cabs, innovated by Navdeep Asija, a Fazilka-based resident.

The bench told counsel for Administration to start making vehicle free-zones in various sectors including Sector 16, inhabited by High Court Judges and other VIPs. "Let the VVIPs have a sense of discipline" the Bench orally remarked.

The Bench also discussed the Metro and its advantages. Various suggestions like appointment of a non motor transportation cell, imparting special training to traffic personnel were also discussed. The Bench also suggested that certain areas of the city could be reserved only for running eco-cabs, a specially designed rickshaw. The modern rickshaws, popularly known as 'eco-cabs', are 25 per cent lighter than the existing models.

Decongesting heart of the city
Times of India, 3 March 2011, Chandigarh
CHANDIGARH: Soon, there could be a ban on entry of vehicles in Sector 17 after 4pm to decongest the heart of the city. 
Taking up the issue of escalating vehicular traffic in city, Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday suggested the Chandigarh administration to make some parts of Sector 17 as no-vehicle zone after 4pm. Reiterating its earlier suggestion to make some parts of each sector vehicle free on rotational basis, HC suggested that the administration could start from Sector 16 where VIPs, including bureaucrats and judges, live. HC also asked the UT to reserve some area of city for running of ecocabs specially designed rickshaws. 
Apparently concerned over the growing traffic chaos on city roads, division bench - comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Ajay Tewari - made it clear that if UT administration fails to take a decision in this regard, the bench could pass an order. 
The suggestion was given by a division bench during resumed hearing of a petition on the issue of introducing eco-cabs in cities of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. The court had taken a suo moto notice of the issue. The concept of eco-cabs was invented in Fazilka district of Punjab where cycle rickshaws are just a phone call away. HC has already asked the Chandigarh administration to explore possibility of introducing eco-cabs in Chandigarh. 
UT has also contacted Graduate Welfare Association, Fazilka, (GWAF) secretary Navdeep Asija, who has been instrumental in inventing such rickshaws, for making arrangements to introduce eco-cabs in the city. The bench also directed the administration to find a way to improve parking situation in the city. 
Importantly, the bench on September 23, 2011 had directed the UT administration to declare one of its sectors as vehicle-free zone to keep a check on growing vehicular congestion. 
Responding to the implementation of earlier orders, UT senior standing counsel Sanjay Kaushal asserted that the process is already on, but making a decision and then enforcing it will take some more time. Now, the case would come up for further hearing on March 7.

Directs UT administration to consider phase-wise implementation in pedestrian-friendly areas

Hindustan Times, 3 March 2012, Chandigarh
In order to convert some areas of Chandigarh into 'no vehicle' and pedestrian friendly zones, the Punjab and Haryana high court has suggested to the UT administration to define a portion of Sector17 and entry of vehicles in the area.
The division bench comprising justice Surya Kant and justice Ajay Tewari on Friday ordered Chandigarh's senior standing counsel Sanjay Kaushal to first consider the area of Sector-17 E starting in front of Lyon's restaurant on one end to Sahib Singh and Sons showroom at the other as 'no-vehicle zone' atleast after 4pm.
Observing that the administration had failed to comply its earlier directions of making sector-17 as vehicle free zone, the bench made it clear that if the administration fails to take any steps on the subject, the court shall start commanding the orders from the next date of hearing. Granting an opportunity to Kaushal so as to seek instructions from the concerned authorities in the matter, speaking for the bench justice Surya Kant
said that the administration should convert some areas in each sector as traffic free zones starting from northern sectors in a phased manner and without any discrimination. Hearing a case of increase in traffic congestion in various cities of Punjab and Haryana including various sectors of Chandigarh justice Surya Kant said, "Every new concept has teething problems but we have to think in larger terms." The bench also directed the Chandigarh administration to take appropriate steps to ensure proper parking areas in the city. Directions were also issued to Navdeep Kumar Asija, who was instrumental in introducing eco-friendly rickshaws in Fazilka (Punjab) to conduct study of various cities in Punjab and Chandigarh starting from Ludhiana and to recommend city specific suggestions for decongestion of traffic.
Appearing for Asija, advocate APS Shergill asserted that court directions are necessary in the matter or else if left to the concerned authorities they would take their own sweet time to show any progress. However, advocate Rita Kohli
appointed as amicus curiae (friend of court) by the court informed that after her visit to various cities including Sirhind and Ludhiana, she found that the state authorities had failed to keep their commitment of making vehicle free zones and introduction of eco-friendly rickshaws.
She asserted that no boards, chains stopping the vehicles from entering a particular area have been put by the authorities and people are not aware of no vehicle zones across the city.
On this, the bench directed that if the authorities are facing difficulties in implementation of schemes then they should come out with real facts before the court and not try to befool the judiciary.
The court also observed that there was a need to appoint nodal agencies at district levels for better co-ordination between the municipal bodies and police authorities.
The case would now come up for hearing on March 7.

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