By Humra Laeeq
#NewYear2018 did not turn out to be so merry for lakhs of people in Delhi. Stuck in miles-long traffic, the celebrations died down when people thronged crowded the roads of Delhi. The culprit was the partial closure of the Lajpat Nagar flyover for repair, causing roadblocks across South and Central Delhi.
Not-so-happy new year
The consequences turned out to be harsh. The police officials switched off the traffic signal system, barricaded the roads around India Gate and stagnated traffic for hours. People resorted to using the Metro lines around Central and South Delhi, the celebration hub of the capital. Thousands were seen jostling at the yellow and violet lines and the number of people rose to an unmanageable level. Exhausted pedestrians sat on the ground, making the situation seem and appear worse. So much for a single road repair!
This raises the question: “Does the Delhi Government need more cues to look into its administrative system or are the citizens equally at fault?”
The probable cause
The havoc was apparently caused by the Lajpat Road repair, but on a larger level, the problems run far and wide. A city that houses 27 million necessitates the availability of safer and easier travel on a daily basis. The problem is exaggerated during festivities and celebrations when a large majority chooses to celebrate. With a population growth rate of almost six percent, Delhi Government should be on alert regarding space and urban management. Singular roadblocks lead to multiple problems only when there is poor management of alternative spaces to channel the traffic. Insufficient parking spaces, poor road conditions, imbalanced police to public number ratio that makes administration harder are the loopholes in the current system. The slow pace of road repair and renovation, lack of funds to invest in development amplifies the hardship.
The second culprit
Assuming that the State indeed makes effort to improve the space-traffic management in the capital, the entire blame cannot be placed solely on it. The citizens appear to be equally, or significantly at fault. In June 2017, the number of vehicles crossed the ‘one crore mark’. This means that approximately one in every three persons owns a vehicle. When a majority of these are brought on the roads, the city suffocates in noise. People choose to drive their own vehicles, hesitate to use public transport perhaps because they do not provide the luxury of private travel, especially on the New Year that joins people across religions and identities. Not to miss the fact that such celebrations also take a toll on the environment.
Solving the problems
Efforts need to be pushed from both the parties, the government and the Delhiites. On a technical level, apart from investing in faster repair labour force and technology, there is a high need for designing alternative roads recognising the population growth and concentration of people in specific areas. On a socially conscious level, people could be encouraged to use carpool so as to reduce the number of vehicles. Party clubs and celebratory sites can offer special provisions on varying time slots for the public so that people do not choose to crowd at specific times.
One cannot stop people from celebrating, and neither does one have the right. One can, however, encourage and offer provisions that help in efficient management.
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