Delhi needs to be saved
Ever since the New Year started, Delhi’s problems too appear to have multiplied. The city is virtually going through its worse crisis and if one goes by the chaos on roads, one wonders what is going to happen in a few years from now. I shall not be surprised if walking may be faster than traveling by cars on some stretches. The Metro, which was expected to bring relief, too is proving to be inadequate and most of the trains are both overcrowded and running late than their schedule.
In particular, Connaught Place and its surroundings are in state of total mess even if the digging has been done to complete projects for the forthcoming commonwealth games. I was born and grew up in Delhi but I have never experienced the kind of limitations, which have been thrust by overcrowding and bad traffic management. CP is the heart of the city and therefore one expects it to figure in any kind of scheme of things. It was for the first time that the Christmas Eve and New Year eve celebrations here were at such a low key that I for a moment thought that I was not in my own city. There were no lights to mark the festivities and the center of attention for even shoppers had shifted elsewhere. In sharp contrast, Khan Market, which has had a makeover, was far brighter. With so much of construction activity, there is no place to park and for people like me who are so used to parking outside the shop or restaurant we visit, it is a thing of the past.
In addition, the traffic on roads has increased manifolds and instead of managing things properly, some wise aleck has started constructing dividers on most roads in New Delhi. This is bound to contribute to further chaos as is being witnessed for instance at the Mandi House roundabout or CP.
I would not have written this blog if I had not been pained by this gross mismanagement by those in charge of this historic city. The Delhi Chief Minister may have been in office for over 11 years but she does not seem to have any idea of what is going on. Mere statements are no substitute for actions. Many of her bureaucrats also are totally at sea and take tabletop decisions without knowing the ground realities. It is very important for instance to drive yourself if one has to comprehend the traffic conditions.
Chauffeur driven luxury alienates one from what is actually happening on the roads. The other day, a colleague of mine was so infuriated when he came to the office that he virtually forced the editorial department to go very big on the traffic chaos on roads in the next day’s paper.
The traffic experts who are giving advice and who are responsible for creating bottlenecks such as those witnessed at the BRT corridors need to be sent on a vacation for sometime to allow traffic cops who handle things daily to take charge of roads. Someone like S.N.Srivastava, the joint CP who was doing very well in taking a lot of interest seems to have fallen out of favour and has been shifted out.
Traffic on roads is not the only problem. The entire civic structure has been over stretched and as result the common people who live in the city have to face hardships. The city is bursting at its seams and there are unofficially already more than two crore people living here. Lakhs commute to and fro from the city daily.
I know it is politically incorrect to deny anyone entry to the country’s capital, but some sort of regulation is needed to save the city from becoming one huge slum. There has to a mechanism through which the city need not become a home for those who come here in search of better opportunities but end up living as homeless. An all-party meeting to save the capital must be held and cheap politics should be prohibited. I have always been for statehood for Delhi and both the Congress and the BJP agree on this. But some compulsions are holding up this plan.
One must understand that Delhi is a city with a soul and no city in this country matches up with it. But this soul too needs breathing space and this is what should be looked into with top priority.