Taking a grim view of the traffic situation in the national capital, a Parliament Panel has made several far reaching recommendations to address the menace and make Delhi more livable.
The report of the 31 member Department Related Standing Committee on Home Affairs, headed by Rajya Sabha member Anand Sharma on ‘The Management of Worsening Traffic Situation in Delhi’ was today presented in the Upper House. It contained 107 recommendations to overcome the traffic woes. The panel went in great detail into the roots and consequences of the problem after examining all the issues in four meetings since August last year.
The panel discussed the matter with senior officials of the Union Ministries of Home Affairs, Road Transport and Highways and Housing and Urban Affairs and representatives of Delhi Government, four urban local bodies, DDA, Delhi Police and other agencies associated with infrastructure planning and development and research.
The Committee while expressing concern over galloping number of vehicles on Delhi roads by the day called for radical measures to check their growth including registration of new vehicles if only the old vehicle is either scrapped or disposed off and if the occupant of a house has parking space besides linking the insurance premium with traffic rule violations which would act as deterrents.
Expressing concern over old and unfit vehicles plying on Delhi roads, the Committee recommended strict action to ensure compliance with the order of National Green Tribunals on phasing out diesel and petrol vehicles of 10 and 15 years vintage respectively.
Referring to entry of about 12 lakhs vehicles daily into Delhi and conveying displeasure over lack of regulation of freight traffic management, the panel has stressed the need for a well considered Freight Traffic Regulation Policy besides effective regulation of entry of other vehicles from neighbouring States and in particular, during peak traffic hours. It said that such vehicles should be allowed to use only the peripheral and ring roads and not be allowed to use city roads. The panel noted that freight traffic on Delhi roads contribute more than 18% of the total vehicular volume.
The Committee examined the role and responsibilities of different Ministries and Government of Delhi and other agencies involved and made specific recommendations in respect of each of them.
Taking note of the short term projects to be completed by 2020 and long term ones planned for 2025 proposed by the Home Ministry, the Committee asked the Ministry to ensure their timely execution and report to the panel on a regular basis.
The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has been urged to exercise caution over mandating the electronic vehicles and instead opt for cleaner diesel stating that complete switching over to EVs at this juncture would lead to collapse of automobile sector besides EVs not being proven as a sustainable alternative. A pragmatic approach with a right balance of all types of vehicles to run on different fuels has been suggested.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs of the Government of India has been asked to ensure proper coordination among all the concerned agencies to promote Non-Motorised Transport with dedicated bicycle tracks and retrofitting of intersections.
Expressing concern over not adding to the bus fleet during the last 10 years, the panel strongly urged the Delhi Government to ensure addition of 6,000 more buses at the earliest possible. Taking note of poor response to some tenders in this regard, the Committee recommended revising the norms to invite adequate response.
The panel also voiced concern over non-provisioning of land for planned induction of 1,000 buses before issuing tender. The Public Works Department of Delhi Government has been asked to undertake simple alterations to junctions and corridors which have so far been neglected as they can qualitatively impact the traffic situation in a positive manner.
The Delhi Police has been asked to focus on rule enforcement not only at traffic lights but also to ensure on-road discipline like lane driving. The Committee hoped that the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 providing for stringent penalties would reduce rule violations but suggested revising the penalties for wider acceptance.
Acknowledging the positive impact of Delhi Metro and however, noting that it has not made much different to the number of vehicles on Delhi roads for want of last mile connectivity etc, the panel urged DMRC to undertake multi-modal integration at all the stations besides increasing the fleet strength and frequency, rationalization of fares besides expanding to the unconnected areas.
Noting that there is no evidence of removal of encroachments, DDA has been asked to be more diligent and stringent besides fixing accountability of all associated with the work.
Observing that most of the important persons reside in and around Lytyen’s Delhi, but there is no provision of separate lane to facilitate easy and free flow of traffic resulting in jams and also security concerns, the Committee of Parliament recommended that the Ministry of Home Affairs should coordinate with all the concerned to ensure free and safe movement of important persons without inconveniencing the commuters.
The panel also recommended exploration of dedicated lanes for emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire engines to save precious lives and for two wheelers as well in view of their substantial number using Delhi roads.
While appreciating the efforts being made by the four urban local bodies to streamline traffic through decongestion and other measures like provisioning of parking spaces, the panel urged them to ensure timely execution of various ongoing and planned projects and advised them to provide Multi Level Car Parking wherever feasible and if not, underground parking.
The Committee reviewed the situation in respect of 7 highly congested places namely, Connaught Place, Lajpat Nagar, Nehru Place, Bhikaji Cama Place, Karol Bagh, Kamala Nagar Market and Krishna Nagar Market and made specific recommendations besides calling for timely execution of planned initiatives for decongestion.
The Parliament Panel emphasized on technology adoption for traffic management and expressed anguish over non-introduction of computer based Area Traffic Control Systems which are operational in South East Asian countries for 30 years.
The Committee while referring to implementation of ‘odd-even scheme’ has strongly recommended that a study should be conducted at the earliest on it’s impact on easing congestion in Delhi and on pollution if no such study has been conducted.
Referring to phenomenal growth in traffic on Delhi roads and inadequate expansion in road length over the decades, the panel said that time has come when redundant service lanes need to be developed to carry the increased volume of traffic as a part of finding low cost, space saving, innovative solutions to decongest roads of Delhi and NCR.
The panel noted with concern over viable traffic related facilities not being provided for differently abled people which is affecting their daily lives as commuters and suggested necessary action.
Expressing concern over slow pace regarding verification of mobile numbers of vehicle owners, the Committee urged the Transport Department of Delhi Government to complete such verification of the remaining 28 lakh mobile numbers while it has been done in respect of 78 lakh vehicles.
The Committee referred to the need to ensure designated parking facilities around prominent places like courts, hospitals, commercial complexes for use by visiting vehicles either on share basis or exclusively.
The panel has referred to the phenomenal increase in the population of Delhi from 4 lakhs in 1901to over 192 lakh now and projected to rise to 225 lakhs by 2025; presence of 112 lakh vehicles in Delhi accounting for 12.50% of total vehicles in the country; registration of over 1,700 vehicles every day; gross mismatch between rise in number of vehicles and expansion in road length and lack of regulation of incoming vehicles into Delhi as among the major reasons for worsening traffic in the national capital.