Designed as a garden city, the first planned city of independent India, Chandigarh is setting a bad example for environmental and community safety with it having the highest number of vehicles per capita the 1.2 million people own 8,00,000 vehicles and an estimated 1,00,000 driving through every day.
Increasing vehicular population along with the demand for mobility is encroaching our parks, roads and pedestrians in an unsustainable manner. Higher number of individual vehicles is leading to more laying of asphalt, a major contributor to climate change. While the public transport system is being operated at 5 % efficiency, parks, pedestrians and inner narrow roads have given way to parking spaces for vehicles thus compromising largely with environmental and community safety.
A study by the Chandigarh city traffic police indicates that most people who died in road accidents in Chandigarh over past five years were pedestrians followed by cyclists. 195 pedestrians have lost their lives so far including 28 people in the first 9 months of 2011.
Let’s demand the Chandigarh Administration to do evidence based planning and ensure:
- To create dedicated, connected, greener and safer cycling lanes and pedestrian lanes to provide incentives for more bicycling and pedestrian users in each sector of Chandigarh
- To Create “No vehicles zones”; especially in the denser sectors, i.e. 22, 23, 27, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, thus regulate the current vehicular traffic;
- Regulate the use of horn from the vehicles;
- Removal of Asphalt from the “no Vehicle zones” and replacement with more greener opportunities in the form of ecological community agro-forestry gardens.
Adviser, Chandigarh Administration, Chandigarh: Create no vehicle zones and safer pedestrian and cycling zones.
The City Chandigarh was planned in 1950 to accommodate a population of 5, 00,000 resident, being the first planned city of Independent India. In 2011, the city has a population of more than 1.2 million people with 800,000 vehicles and an estimated 100,000 driving through every day. This city has the largest number of vehicles per capita in the country and still adding on an average another 125 every day with 40% of these being cars. The Report on State of Environment, Chandigarh, 2008 states that the city’s air ambient quality is dauntingly affected by vehicular pollution.
Added to the addition of large number of high energy driven vehicles, we see at an everyday pace, trees being cut down to facilitate more and more vehicle in the city. November 27, 2011- the local newspaper carried news of 79 trees to be axed down. Most of them being cut down to create slip roads.The emission factors for fuels are quoted below, based on “Emission factors development for Indian Vehicles, Central Pollution Control Board, Government of India”, for petrol is 2.325 kg/ CO2 / l, Diesel-2.734 kg CO2 / l, Average cost of fuels: Petrol=INR 67/ l, and Diesel varying between INR 38-41.85/l, with an average mileage of 17.8 Km/hour for the four wheelers.
This city was designed as a garden city, with people world over visiting the city for its urban planning and architecture, however, now our landscape within the city roads sees vehicular queues of a minimum 800 meters and school children of not so privileged homes on their bicycles shuttling randomly though intense car chaos at peak institutional closing hours.
Not only robberies, but news reports also state a high number of pedestrian deaths in Chandigarh in the past five years. An average of 37494 road accidents were reported for the year 2007 itself. Report in January 2011, stated that the city has the highest number of road accidents per capita in spite of having large and wide roads.
This largely calls upon the administrators, judiciary, house of the common and planners of the city to look at the socio-economic and environmental sustainability of the city by taking paced up steps to create no vehicle zones and safer bicycle and pedestrian zones.
This can be done in each sector by providing community parking lots, training and informing citizens to drive their cars safely and information on community parking lots and their cooperative community maintenance, incentives on riding their bicycles by providing safe bicycle zones with a connectivity which currently terminate beyond a few sectors, more so by providing safe pedestrian zones.