Tribune flyover: Myopic planning won’t let city fly over traffic woes
After the Punjab and Haryana High Court stayed the axing of trees for the Tribune flyover project, virtually putting the ambitious project on hold, the lack of a holistic mobility plan with UT administration for the city has come again to the fore. The flyover project planned in silos, without a citywide comprehensive study, is likely to create more problems than it will solve, say experts.
As per information accessed under the RTI Act, during the course of finalisation of the Tribune flyover project plan in 2018, the UT engineering department junked the only comprehensive report on the Chandigarh tricity’s vehicular movement – the Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) report 2009.
RITES Ltd prepared a comprehensive mobility plan for Chandigarh urban complex (Panchkula-Mohali included) on the basis of extensive study of the vehicular movement and volumes across the tricity.
An integrated multi-model transport system was to be developed on the basis of this report. Solutions like MRTS (mass rapid transport system), including BRTS (Bus Rapid Transport System), commuter rail system, etc., were to be employed. It strongly recommended against the alleviated structures such as flyovers. Instead, it suggested underpasses should be constructed at desired locations to preserve the city’s architecture aesthetics.
RITES suggestions and vehicular data were later extensively considered in the formulation the Chandigarh Master Plan 2031.
But, for the UT engineering department, the comprehensive RITES report was outdated. “When RITES report wascompiled, there has been substantial change in the traffic scenario within the city,” the department wrote to the planning department.
“Planning processes must keep in mind the interdependent nature of traffic movement. Decongestion at one point can lead to choking points down the road. A holistic approach is necessary. Administration should have first gone for a city-wide comprehensive study based on scientific data before going ahead with this adhoc solution that can backfire,” said Jaspreet Takhar, a city based architect
PART OF THE PARTIAL SOLUTION
On May 23, 2018, in a high-level meeting chaired by the UT adviser, out of the three options provided by the Tribune flyover consultant, one with a budget of ₹1,000 crore was finalised. The option included linking of the Tribune rotary directly with the Zirakpur border through two flyovers. The two flyovers would take the inter-state/inter-city traffic outside the city limits without burdening the local roads.
“But, after few months, in another high-level meeting, it was suggested by a senior UT officer that the project should be split into two parts. There was a fear that such costly project might not get the requisite central government approvals, and might end-up gathering dust at the Union cabinet’s table,” said a senior UT official on the condition of anonymity.
Later even the ministry of road, transport and highways (MoRTH) directed the consultant to reduce the cost of the project. So, finally the two flyovers were reduced to one and the ₹1,000 crore project reduced to ₹183 crore.
Significantly, quoting a report by the consultant for the project, the UT planning departmentletter to engineering department in July 2018: “Even the consultant themselves say traffic congestion at Tribune Chowk will move towards further junctions (Hallomajra, airport lightpoint and GMCH-32) if the flyover is constructed.” It further notes that Hallomajra and the airport lightpoint have already become very unsafe.