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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

Delhi Metro stations continue to be choke points

Experts say Delhi’s anti-encroachment drives would remain hollow measures unless backed by sustainable policy moves.

delhi Updated: May 06, 2018 22:50 IST
Soumya Pillai
Soumya Pillai
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Encroachments and e-rickshaws in a no parking zone outside Ramakrishna Ashram Marg metro station in New Delhi.
Encroachments and e-rickshaws in a no parking zone outside Ramakrishna Ashram Marg metro station in New Delhi.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
         

Metro station gates across the city remain permanent choke points for road traffic as the anti-encroachment special task force has been unable to remove any of the bottlenecks ranging from vegetable vendors to hawkers selling phone chargers, unauthorised bus services and autorickshaws crowding the sites.

The task force targeted illegal occupants of public walkways over the past week at AIIMS, Hauz Khas, Peeragarhi, and Nangloi stations apart from those around Chirag Delhi, Janakpuri East, Akshardham, New Delhi, Inderlok and Mundka. When HT visited these stations on Sunday, the squatters were back at their usual spots and haphazardly parked autorickshaws blocked exit points.

Experts said such anti-encroachment drives would remain hollow measures unless backed by sustainable policy moves. Apart from clogging arterial roads and creating bottlenecks for traffic, encroachments outside Metro exits are a major safety concern, they said, especially in case of an emergency such as a fire.

“These temporary set-ups outside Metro stations such as hawkers and rickshaw-pullers are bound to return unless a comprehensive policy is formed for accommodating them. The space around Metro gates needs to be mandatorily made a no-hawking and no-parking zone for the safety of passengers,” said Uday Pratap Singh, an urban planner with the NGO Safe Spaces which works to develop safer and accessible public spaces.

The formation of town vending committees and the creation of specific vending zones are stuck in the pipeline, the lack of which makes these drives a mere formality, he said.

According to the Delhi Fire Services Act, 2007, blocking the exit of the any public transport mode such as a railway or Metro station is strictly prohibited. Fifty metres of space needs to be kept free of any blockade to enable evacuation in case of an accident.

At stations such as Uttam Nagar West—where the drive was carried out on Friday—both exits were blocked by vegetable and fruit vendors. As commuters exit from the gates, they have to jostle with handcarts, hawkers and walk beside jhuggis built on the footpaths. Unauthorised mini-buses remain parked on the passageway. In east Delhi’s Mansarovar Garden and Jhilmil stations, the problem of bicycle and e-rickshaws is more acute.

These encroachments outside Metro stations are not just on the radar of the Supreme Court-appointed special task force but have also been an important feature of Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s plan to decongest the city.

Baijal had earlier directed the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and civic agencies to ensure smooth traffic movement around the upcoming Chirag Delhi and Greater Kailash-II stations. He also asked for the barricading of footpaths and earmarking sites on service lanes for parking of autorickshaws to avert traffic congestion.