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No way out of traffic chaos

Chaos prevails on the city roads with the ever-increasing number of vehicles causing traffic jams as the city has no public transport system and a master plan.

punjab Updated: May 14, 2012 16:45 IST

Chaos prevails on the city roads with the ever-increasing number of vehicles causing traffic jams as the city has no public transport system and a master plan.

Administrators, sitting in their beacon-flashing vehicles, seem to care little as cops rush to clear traffic jams to allow smooth passage for the VIP vehicles. This attitude perhaps sends a wrong signal to the common man who does not mind jumping the red light.

A mobility plan was prepared for the major cities of Punjab, including Amritsar, way back in 1994. However, barring identification of certain 'junction' parking places, no other clause of the plan was implemented.

Now, with the Centre asking the government to prepare a mobility plan for all cities being covered under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM), the government will have to focus on the latest issues of congestion and traffic management, as the scenario has completely changed in the past 18 years.

Hit-and-trial traffic plans that have been executed from time to time will no longer work. A permanent solution has to be found. Hindustan Times had a look at the traffic issues faced by the city and identified some of the key problems.

Enforcement by cops
It's a city of about 12 lakh that sees around 3-lakh registered vehicles on road on a given day. However, there are only 164 traffic cops.

Deputy commissioner of police Satpal Joshi said, "I agree we don't have enough staff to manage traffic. Though our traffic cops educate people, challan them and also keep a close eye on the violators, the need of the hour is that people themselves be aware of traffic norms and follow the rules."

Congestion around Golden Temple
A point of debate that keeps doing the rounds every now and then is whether the area from Dharam Singh market to the Golden Temple (300 metres) should be declared a 'no vehicle zone (for cars and three wheelers)'.

However, Prof Ashwani Luthra of the Department of Guru Ram Dass School of Planning at GNDU feels it will not be possible to declare this stretch a no vehicle zone as there are a lot of people who have houses in the area. He has suggested that the administration paste special stickers or identity markers on the vehicles of those living in this stretch for allowing their vehicles to pass.

Numerous hotels/serais have come up in the area which has witnessed an increase in encroachments.

Congested walled city
In the historical walled city, the space to manoeuvre vehicles seems to be getting narrower due to unauthorised parking of vehicles on both sides of every street and bazaar.

Outer city, malls
The main bottlenecks in the outer city are Crystal Chowk to Bhandari Bridge, Queens Road, Lawrence Road, Mall Road, outside railway station, bus stand and Kitchlew Chowk.

No public transport
Local buses were a permanent feature of the city till the early eighties. They used to ply even to the Golden Temple. However, these gradually disappeared and no effort was made to revive the service.

The city bus service plan was floated by the SAD-BJP government in 2007-08, but has failed to see the light of day.

As locals still await the city bus service to begin, the Punjab government has announced starting the Public Rapid Transport System (PRTS) wherein pods will operate on 20-ft-high tracks from the railway station to the Golden Temple and from the bus stand to the Golden Temple.

First Published: May 14, 2012 16:39 IST