Panjab University vehicle ban: Is varsity looking at a bumpy ride ahead?
The plan took root during the 2015 PU student elections when a majority of students voted to ban four-wheelers in academic zones on the Sector 14 and Sector 25 campusesUpdated: Jun 02, 2018 10:23 IST
HT studies the origin of this ban and the loopholes that may prove to be its undoing:
When was the plan initiated?
The plan took root during the 2015 PU student elections when a majority of students voted to ban four-wheelers in academic zones on the Sector 14 and Sector 25 campuses. Protests and campaigning by students against the harassment of female students by youngsters in vehicles had led to this referendum.
About 3,315 students (53.2%) supported the ban on the Sector 14 campus, while 2,916 (46.2%) voted against it. A total of 51.3% students had favoured the ban on the Sector 25 campus, while 48.7% opposed it.
What are the features of the ban?
As per the ban, the first-year students cannot bring four-wheelers to the campus in Sector 14. All other students, faculty members and non-teaching staff with official stickers on their cars and with valid IDs can bring their vehicles to the campus. Outsiders and visitors will have to park their vehicles at designated parking spots at the entry gates.
The academic areas will be made vehicle free by putting up wicket gates at five entry points. Older faculty and women teachers who wear sarees will be allowed to drive in these areas too.
What is the purpose?
The purpose of the ban is to reduce the traffic congestion on the campus and to create a student-friendly atmosphere.
What was the trigger? How many vehicles come to the campus every day?
It was after the referendum that the university initiated a plan to ban vehicles on the campus. Although the current policy was approved by the Syndicate in 2017, inadequate manpower delayed its implementation. The chairpersons’ meeting on Monday decided to pool the available resources and have security guards from different departments man the wicket gates in shifts.
According to an in-house report prepared by the PU, 9,784 cars entered the campus between 8 am and 5 pm on a particular day in 2014. Chief of university security, Ashwani Koul, said, “Around 14,000 vehicles enter the campus every day.”
When was it tried earlier?
Former vice-chancellor RC Sobti had mooted the proposal for a greener campus in 2007 by observing the first Monday of every month as a vehicle-free day. He had even issued 15 bicycles donated to PU, to senior officials. On the first day, he himself pedalled around the campus but the move failed to pick up.
In 2013, there was a proposal to ban four-wheelers of students living in hostels, but the university failed to implement it.
Why did the previous attempt come a cropper?
The resistance among senior officials to pedalling around the campus derailed the plan.
The plan to ban the use of four-wheelers by hostellers also failed as the university allowed vehicular entry on various grounds such as relatives coming to hostels.
What are the loopholes in the present policy?
The university is short of more than 100 security guards at present and the ministry of human resource development does not allow any new recruitment.
It is not a blanket ban. Only the first year students are barred from bringing cars to the campus. Students say it’s mostly seniors who bring four-wheelers to the campus.
The university is yet to make adequate space for parking. There aren’t enough e-rickshaws on the campus, and of the five shuttle buses plying there, two are being phased out. The university is yet to purchase the 200 free cycles it had promised to provide even though it has the funds. The registrar, Col GS Chadha (retd), however, said the frequency of shuttle service will be increased.
How has Punjabi University done it successfully?
Punjabi University, Patiala, implemented a blanket ban on four-wheelers after student protests in 2015, but staff and faculty are allowed to use four-wheelers. Arrangements for parking vehicles are made at the two gates from where students walk to their departments. E-rickshaws are available in the campus as an alternative to the vehicle ban and majority rickshaw drivers are women.
Those with disabilities or relatives of students who come to drop off the baggage of hostellers are allowed entry once they leave the Registration Certificate (RC) of their vehicle at the gate.