Online campaign to clear traffic mess in City of Taj

Network power

Several NGOs and social activists have launched an online campaign against traffic chaos in Agra. They are using Facebook and email to mobilise public opinion and pressure district authorities to implement an action plan for a better Agra. 

In just 24 hours, the campaign has gone viral. District magistrate Ajay Chauhan has been flooded with emails. The action plan has received wide support from internet users, both local and international.

This is because the whole of Agra stands paralysed and helpless due to chaotic traffic and deteriorating civic amenities. Those who suffer the worst are tourists, who are stranded in traffic jams for hours, many swearing never to return, said Surendra Sharma, president of Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.

Facebook users and the media are engaged in discussions over the right strategy to restore sanity on roads and streamline traffic. “It is a problem that concerns everyone. Unless people in Agra wake up, the authorities will not respond,” said Shishir Bhagat, president of Wake Up Agra group.

Sportsperson Harvijay Bahia said boys and girls ride two-wheelers with no helmets, zipping through traffic and putting themselves in danger, and they are least concerned about traffic regulations. Sanjay Chaturvedi, an expert on traffic management, who released an 11-point programme focussing on cycling, walking and public transport, said all those engaged in the campaign must set an example.

“Why is everyone thinking of cars? Why can’t we develop efficient and affordable public transport? Agra gets enough funds and revenue from tourism, but a tourist last year died when he fell into a gutter while walking.”

The action plan suggests one-way traffic in tourist areas, clearing encroachments, stiff fines and penalty on those who flout traffic rules, widening of roads, and shifting of statues, memorials and shrines from MG Road. “In Mysore, authorities launched a campaign to popularise cycles. From the commissioner to a clerk, everyone comes on cycle to offices every Monday. The programme was a huge success,” said Shravan Kumar Singh, a resident.

“Chaos on the roads is proving fatal to pedestrians and the common man. Agra’s tourism industry is badly affected and we aren’t doing anything,” said Rajiv Tiwari, president of the Federation of Travel Agents. 

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