Not going into the environmental implication of obliterating the canals, as also accompanying depleted storm water drainage capacity and increased occurrences of waterlogging, the endeavour resulted in wider roads – width of most roads in Dehradun city having been more than doubled since the creation of the state. Together with this a number of flyovers have come into existence to provide relief to the masses.
Many would attribute this to increased vehicular load as is evident from the number of registered vehicles in the state that have increased from 6,43,000 in 2007 to 27,53,000 in 2019, which is significantly higher than other areas – in the same period number of vehicles in Delhi have increased from 5.53 to 11.39 million, and in Mumbai from 1.5 to 3.05 million.
One would however agree that not many cities including Delhi face traffic jams and congestions on a regular basis, as are experienced in Dehradun. Closer analysis brings forth a number of causes of which most are attributed to poor driving etiquettes of the residents. The enforcement agencies are also to be blamed equally.
In Dehradun people habitually do not park their vehicles at the designated parkings before moving around to take care of routine business. Moreover, they have made it a habit to do everything sitting in the comfort of their vehicles. Big vehicles parked besides road side vegetable, fruit and fast food vendors are thus commonplace in the city. Doing so people pay scant regard to the inconvenience faced by others, leave apart being concerned of resulting traffic congestion.
Moreover, there is none around to stop people from doing so, and lip service of the enforcement agencies is over with a few announcements to move the haphazardly parked vehicle.
To add to it, the white line marked by the enforcement agencies at the left end of the roads has only legitimatised this habit, and encouraged by the same people do not hesitate in parking their vehicles to the right of this white line.
Missing bus stops
Dehradun has no designated bus stops and in order to maximise business at the cost of the convenience of common people, most buses tend to board and disembark passengers right at the crossing where the traffic load is maximum – be it at Ghantaghar or Ballupur.
Needless to say that the presence of enforcement agencies is maximum around these places.
It seems that the authorities have widened roads not for ensuring smooth passage of vehicles, but for earning revenue by turning these into parking spaces.
The authorities might designate these as being smart parking but the idea is really dumb, as it often results in traffic congestion – particularly along busy Rajpur Road around Ghantaghar.
The enforcement agencies, rather than applying the basics of transportation engineering and planning, seem busy experimenting with their whims and fancies and the same has made taking U-turn at many places difficult – Bindal and Kishan Nagar Chowk included.
Perhaps to cherish our love for spirits, almost all licensed liquor shops in the city are located by the side of the main roads, and even the Supreme Court dictum to allow these only at a significant distance from the main road has failed to move these. Thanks to our love for spirits – we have downgraded our road status rather than causing inconvenience to our esteemed customers that provide us much needed revenue.
So particularly during the evening rush hours, haphazardly parked vehicles around the liquor shops are a major nuisance. But then, the enforcement agencies are least bothered as the same could adversely affect our revenue collection.
Cuts on main roads
A cut hardly 50 m from the Kishan Nagar Chowk on Chakrata Road, as also one 150-200 m from Bindal Chowk for Tagore Villa are examples of this.
These avoidable cuts on the main road cause regular traffic congestion but the enforcement agencies seem to be benevolent enough not trying to cause even a bit of inconvenience to our Mohalla colleagues.
Clogged left turn
As is a general practice left turn is generally free and we in Dehradun are no exception. But then the driving and civic sense of ours is indeed different, and so at most places and at most times we leave little scope for one to turn left freely – hence traffic congestion.
Most traffic signals in the city have not been curated with scientific study of the traffic load on different connecting roads. The installed traffic signals thus result in traffic congestion.
Moreover there exist no provision at these places for ensuring compliance of traffic rules and signals.
The enforcement agencies have failed to ensure parking of vehicles at designated places in the city. Mostly empty parking in the proximity of Ghantaghar is an example of this.
The authorities have at the same time failed to create convenient and spacious parking spaces in the town.
Moreover, the concerned authorities have fail to ensure that the basement parkings mandated by building bye laws in the commercial establishments are functional. This lapse is evident from the same being utilised for non-parking commercial purposes.
The persons visiting these establishments thus park their vehicles by the road side causing traffic congestion.
Previously there used to be a few occasions wherein religious as also other processions were carried around the city. But then the city seems to be getting more religiously oriented – on the one hand the frequency of the processions is increasing while on the other hand the size of these is getting more and more magnificent.
The enforcement agencies seem to have done nothing to curb this trend, and with each passing year city is witnesses a few new processions – thanks to our religious harmony and tolerance.
Needless to say that every such procession derails the traffic of the entire city for the whole day.
With 5 storeyed apartment buildings being sanctioned on plots as small as 300 sq yard and basements often put to non-parking usage, haphazardly parked vehicles are becoming commonplace even in properly planned and laid out residential colonies.
In such a situation, should having parking space not be made mandatory for purchasing a vehicle?
It is a common practice world over to put in place disincentives for the use of private vehicles, particularly in identified zones of high traffic congestion.
Enforcement agencies have so far not dared to experiment with any such measure.
Public agony & way forward
It is worth consideration that traffic density and congestion have a direct bearing on air quality and noise pollution in an area, and the same has adverse impact on personal well-being with anxiety disorder, insomnia and hypertension being indirect consequences.
An aggressive awareness drive is recommended to communicate the role of the masses in traffic related woes of Dehradun so as to bring forth responsible driving behaviour.
Masses are often inertia savvy, and resist change. So it is the responsibility of the enforcement agencies to ensure abidance of traffic rules by one and all in Dehradun.
To minimise and put an end to traffic related woes of the residents of Dehradun, the enforcement agencies have to resort to both structural and non-structural measures to ensure smooth passage of vehicles at all times.
They have to put in place measures to deter and restrict use of personal vehicles and promote public transport, create convenient parking spaces and deter alternate use of these, disallow commercial establishments including schools and hospitals without adequate parking space – linking the same to their operating license, and strictly prohibit all road side parking.