Controlling the chaos

Controlling the chaos

Step outside the Metro station at Moolchand and land amid a flurry of honks, noise, auto and rickshaw-pullers chanting continuously and competing to offer you a ride back home.

A quarter of a kilometre is the distance of the passage that divides a commuter from them. “On that, there’s construction happening in the periphery of the station that keeps on producing a whirring sound amidst a traffic-like situation. There’s always a policeman thwarting the rickshaw-pullers out of this passage, everytime I come here in the morning,” says Abhilasha Gusain, a resident of Lajpat Nagar. The station is coming up with new retail outlets, adjoining its entry gates. The roads around the periphery are marked with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s signboards that read: “No Halting, No Parking, Tow Away Zone”.

Ask any rickshaw-puller around the area, and he says, “We know we are not allowed to ply here. But there are no ranks around to stand. So, auto-rickshaw drivers take up one side of the road and we take another. It’s easy to snub a rickshaw puller so whenever a traffic jam happens, we are the first one’s who get reprimanded. And this happens regularly at rush hours.”

 That’s definitely not the story of a single Metro station. As the commercial hubs in Metro stations become a regular feature, there’s definitely going to be a larger footfall. So, the question is how to keep the areas around Metros stations away from turning into traffic-inflicted mayhem? Recently, the Delhi Traffic Police came up with the idea to decongest the areas outside key Metro stations with the help of the Public Works Department.

“The idea is to introduce U-shaped strips, a circular strip that allow autos and rickshaws to enter at a specific point, go behind the station for picking up passengers and then exit at a fixed point. While there are parking spaces for commuters, there’s no such thing for these vehicles. We did a survey to find out the Metro stations with highest footfalls to select a few stations to get this construction initiated by PWD,” says Anil Shukla, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic).  To check whether the implementation of this idea has been taken forward, Metrolife spoke to the PWD spokesperson and found that PWD has not received a single formal proposal for the same.

Awadhendra Sharan, a researcher in urban planning at Centre for Developing Societies, throws some light on the situation, “For last minute connectivity, rickshaws are an integral part of our life. I live around Mayur Vihar Metro Station which faces a similar situation from the traffic point of view but you cannot blame it down to rickshaws all the time. Only because they are a crude form of non-motorised transportation, they suffer a bias from urban planners.”

He emphatically adds, “Why doesn’t anyone ever complain about motorised traffic there? If there are parking lots for motorised vehicles, then there has to be something on the same lines for rickshaws. For instance, there’s a naala around Mayur Vihar Metro station which could be easily be converted into a rickshaw rank.”

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