The civic authorities and the traffic police have failed to remove encroachments on the bus bays that obstruct the traffic on the city roads despite a Supreme Court directive to keep them free of encroachments. Numerous complaints requesting decongesting of roads have been filed with the authorities by individuals and organisations, but have mostly failed to deliver any results.
In a writ petition No. 13029 /1985 between M.C.Mehta vs Union of India & Ors vide order dated 20 November 1997, 10 December and 16 December 1997, the civic bodies and traffic police were directed to earmark the bus bays on the extreme left of the road as “Bus Bays” painted in yellow and were to be kept them free from encroachments.
The Supreme Court had instructed the civic authorities to “take necessary steps to remove immediately all encroachments—temporary or permanent—on roads and pavements, which affect the smooth flow of traffic or obstruct the way of pedestrians. Stray cattle and other similar obstructions would also have to be similarly dealt with.”
The major traffic bottlenecks are taxi stands and shops on footpaths, car parking on bus bays, encroachments of bus stands by auto/Gramin Sewa and electric rickshaws, markets on footpaths, car parking on footpaths and service lanes, parking of buses and trucks in service lanes, encroachments of city/colony roads by neighborhood schools etc.
The authorities suggested levying a ‘congestion charge’ on encroachment of roads to regulate the offenders.
“We had filed objections about shopping malls in Vasant Kunj during public hearings conducted by the Environment Impact Assessment Authority (EIAA) in 2004, particularly on traffic and parking, but they were ignored. Today, one cannot drive on Nelson Mandela Road on Saturdays and Sundays because of massive parking on all the peripheral roads as well as Nelson Mandela Road,” said Anil Sood, president, CHETNA, an NGO that works in the environment, consumer protection, traffic management, road safety and power sectors.
Some government offices, too, face congestion problem because there is no parking space on the premises. Visitors to government offices like the Transport Department, traffic police, local police stations, passport office, banks in residential areas, MCD offices, DDA offices are then forced to park their cars on the main road outside the offices.
At some places like the Safdrajung Development Area, Green Park, Vasant Vihar, Paschim Vihar, Connaught Place, Punjabi Bagh, Shalimar Bagh etc, instead of parking their cars inside their bungalows, people park them outside.
“DDA has approved the conversion of residential areas like South Extension, Vikas Puri, Rajouri Garden, Raja Garden, Mansarover Garden, Amar Colony and Lajpat Nagar. But this leads to violation of various master plans because land use over the surface was changed without analysing and enhancing the carrying capacity of the underground infrastructure,” Sood said.
The authorities suggested levying a “congestion charge” on the encroachment of roads to regulate the offenders, Sood said, “But without implementing the Supreme Court’s guidelines, imposing a congestion charge would be a case of punishing commuters for the gross negligence committed by the planners and law enforcement agencies.”