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Make way for emergency vehicles

Kusum Kanojia, Dec 11, 2012, DHNS: 19:59 IST

Road sense

Many lives can be saved if emergency vehicles like fire tenders, PCR vans and ambulances are given way on busy, traffic-filled roads. But a majority of commuters in the City are insensitive to battling lives and deny passage to these vehicles. Resultantly, these vehicles get stuck in traffic jams.

To ensure that precious time is not lost and people don’t ignore emergency vehicles around them, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has decided to dedicate the right side of almost 162 City roads for emergency vehicles.

According to the proposal sent to the transport department, those found violating the norm will be fined on the lines of lanes reserved during CWG 2010. Normal vehicles, however, will be allowed to ply on the lane during non-emergency situations. A siren will be used to inform commuters when these lanes have to be emptied.

Metrolife talks to experts and commuters to find out feasibility of the proposal since the lanes will be open to general vehicles and getting them emptied might turn out to be chaotic - given the City’s traffic conditions. Rakesh Kumar, deputy secretary, Health and Family Welfare (Delhi govt) and Administrative Officer, CATS, says whether the proposal will yield results, it is a positive step anyway.

Without going into details of how it will be implemented, he says, “It is a positive step. As of now, there are only advisories regarding plying of emergency vehicles. If this system gets in place, all vehicle owners will be liable to give passage to fire tenders, ambulances and PCR vans. But I believe, only a penalty is not sufficient. There is a need for a multi-directional approach that also focuses on sensitising people that a life can be saved with their effort.”

Time and again, Delhi Traffic Police launches special drives and challans vehicles blocking the way of emergency vehicles but largely the offence is largely neglected. The fine for not allowing passage to emergency vehicles is a mere Rs 100, under Sec 7 of the Motor Vehicles Act and how helpful the new proposal will be is the question that everybody is asking.

Rahul Verma, co-founder of Delhi-based Uday Foundation that works for disaster management, says an awareness campaign to sensitise people and better coordination between traffic officials will also be need of the hour to make the proposal a success. “During CWG, it worked but the lanes were dedicated throughout. Penalty helped but people were also aware. The challenge is to get them emptied which is problematic. In Delhi, where motorists race with ambulances, it will be a tedious task. But, at least, it is laudable that such a proposal has come,” he adds.

Citizens believe this proposal puts onus even more on traffic officials and worry if will be implemented well. Deepak Singh, a professional, says, “This one will be tough to follow. Getting the right side of the road empty for one fire tender or a single ambulance will not be easy. Everything depends on how seriously it is implemented.”

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