Dehradun: When a new government takes charge after March 11 --- the day results to the February 15 assembly elections are declared --- it would have its task cut out. Apart from the policy matters, the government would have to take immediate measures to ease the traffic woes, mostly compounded by high number of private vehicles, lack of parking facilities and poor public transportation system.
Result: the hill state often ends up witnessing traffic jams that put even densely populated cities to shame. Add to it the tourist rush, especially in the summer season, and the hill stations get bursting at the seams.
The state with a population of just over 1 crore has 22.93 lakh registered vehicles. Majority concentration of the vehicles is in Dehradun (7.77 lakh), Haridwar (4.38 lakh), Udham Singh Nagar (3.79 lakh) and Haldwani (2.73 lakh).
Dehradun, which tops in registration of vehicles, is ailing with acute traffic woes. Despite construction of two flyovers and a foot over-bridge, there has been no decongesting the traffic.
“Past governments did work on the issue. Junctions were opened, Chakrata Road was widened, and flyovers and foot over bridges have been constructed. Still the congestion couldn’t be controlled. Why? Because there’s absolute lack of planning,” Mahesh Bhandari, president Doon Resident Welfare Front said.
One of the main reasons behind traffic woes in capital is lack of parking places.
“The population is increasing and so are the vehicles but the roads have remained the same. To balance this difference, the concerned authority should ensure paid parking like in Delhi. Moreover, commercial buildings should have mandatory parking lot. This should be checked at regular intervals,” Sweety Agarwal, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Dehradun said.
Similar conditions prevail in Haridwar, which receives thousands of tourists round the year. Udham Singh Nagar, which shares boundary with Uttar Pradesh, and Haldwani, which is the gateway to Nainital, face similar issues.
The public transportation system is also weak owing to which residents face difficulties in intra-state travel. Chief minister Harish Rawat inked a memorandum with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for starting metro train facility between Dehradun and Rishikesh and Dehradun and Kalsi in December last year. The project, however, is still in nascent stage.
“Unless the public transportation is made strong, people will remain dependent on private vehicles,” said Meena Rawat, a resident of Race Course.