The disruption of traffic to provide smooth travel to dignitaries and also state ministers by the traffic department has invited criticism from the Bombay high court.
While hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Bombay Bar Association and advocate Armin Wandrewala on Monday, a division bench of justice DK Deshmukh and justice KK Tated said that visits of the Prime Minister, the President or even the chief minister and deputy chief minister’s from their official residence to Mantralaya causes a lot of inconvenience to the common man.
Deshmukh said: “During the recent visit of the President, the traffic police had closed all the signals on the road towards Mantralaya. Does the authority not have common knowledge to ask the President not to keep any programme during peak hours?”
Not sparing the state ministers, Deshmukh remarked: “Whenever the convoy of the CM passes through Varsha [CM’s official bungalow at Malabar Hill] the entire traffic till Mantralaya is disrupted. Same is the case when the home minister leaves his residence in Malabar Hill. If they are in such a hurry to reach Mantralaya then they should start early.”
Talking on behalf of all the citizens and advising that the VIPs must avoid travelling during peak hours, justice Deshmukh said, “A common man unnecessarily suffers because of them. As it is traffic is horrible in this city. This issue is on everybody’s mind and we are talking as citizens.”
The court asked government pleader DN Nalavade as to who instructs the traffic department to close signals. Also, how much money has the government spent on constructing offices for ministers at their residence.
Justice Deshmukh suggested that the traffic police could close signals at Rajbhavan for few minutes.
Nalavade informed the court that the traffic department did not decide on the schedules of the VIPs. “They just coordinate by facilitating the traffic flow. Besides, this facility is also provided for higher judiciary,” said Nalavade.
Earlier, the high court had directed the civic body to paint all the zebra crossings in the city by January 31. Wandrewala said there were several signals where the zebra crossing had not been painted. The next hearing is on February 14.