Tuesday, November 29, 2016

No place to walk in car capital: Activist files case on behalf of pedestrians, cyclists

LUDHIANA: Ludhiana has the most four-wheelers in Punjab. The city has precisely two and a half times more cars than the national average, says Navdeep Asija, a Mohali-based traffic advisor, who was so concerned by the figures he filed a case of 'Right to walk' in Punjab and Haryana High Court. According to data compiled by Asija, a copy of which is with The Times of India, there are four cars for 100 persons in Ludhiana and Jalandhar. But Ludhiana has a higher percentage of four-wheelers at 16% with Jalandhar following closely at 15%. The number of four-wheelers per 100 persons for the state is two, or half the value for Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

As per the figures, which were compiled a few years ago, the projected estimated vehicle population for 2016 from the year 2000 is 10,29,199 for Ludhiana followed by Jalandhar at 6,46,980. But the total vehicle count per 100 people in Jalandhar is 28, followed by Ludhiana at 27.

"We compiled the data of four-wheelers because most of the public money is going to facilitate 4% of the population and nothing is left for the poor who walk or cycle. Crores are being spent on that but there's not a kilometer long footpath where people can walk. I have been fighting for the right to walk since 2010 and have filed a case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. I think no citizen should be deprived of walking. Pedestrians and cyclists are a minority community on roads and my fight is for them. The one who has less in life should have more in law", said Navdeep. After studying the MC budget, he said spending on footpaths for pedestrians and cyclists is negligible

This is corroborated by cyclists and walkers who are hardpressed for space. "Though it is good that the government is spending money on roads, they should not ignore the fact that a sizeable percentage of people in Ludhiana also walk and cycle. They should be given better facilities on roads, including footpaths and cycling tracks", said Davinder Nagi, President, Ludhiana Peddlers Club.

The traffic advisor says he wants walking to be included as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which would guarantee a healthy life to every citizen as walking is good for health. MC officials said this year's budget for repair and construction of roads in the city was Rs 280 crore. Of this, they said, around Rs 2 to Rs 3 crore was for repair of footpaths.