If there are sufficient luxurious buses on roads, folks will cease utilizing vehicles

Gurgaon, a city on the threshold of becoming a metropolis, is growing at a pace no one would have imagined a decade ago. However, unfinished roads, traffic snarls and lack of an effective public transport in new sectors are holding up its further growth. In the series — Give Gurgaon Its Due — TOI took a hard look at the problems and tried to present what needs to be done. And at the with Union minister for road transport, highways, shipping, water resources and Ganga rejuvenation , stakeholders in Gurgaon’s growth, from realtors to RWAs and CEOs to members of civil society, got an opportunity to discuss with the minister issues that concern the city the most. A lowdown.

Public transport | Minister’s view

Should be cost-effective and pollution-free. A BEST (Mumbai) diesel bus costs Rs. 10 per 1km, AC buses in Nagpur cost Rs 78 per 1km, but an AC electric bus will cost Rs. 50 per 1km. In Gurgaon, ticket prices will drop by 30%, if AC electric buses are introduced. And if there are enough luxury coaches on roads, people would stop taking their cars out.
“The state government and municipal corporation must be more proactive in introducing new technology and innovative models.”

Lack of cycle tracks | Minister’s view <br
Road engineering needs improvement, to help bring down the number of accident ‘black spots’ and save lives. And, automobile makers need to become more safety conscious, by engineering cars with more safety features. Educate people on the rules of the road. Don’t use a mobile phone while driving, wear a helmet, don’t jump red lights.
“This is not about politics, it’s about saving lives.”

Fake licences | Minister’s view
With some 2,000 training institutes being set up across the country, you will no longer have to go to the road transport office (RTO) to get a licence. At any of these ‘schools’, a yellow light will indicate to any driver who reaches the final part of the driving test, that s/he has passed. And if a licence isn’t issued within three days, the competent authority will be fined.
“Around 30% of licences in India are bogus, (so) this will help bring down corruption.”

Air & noise pollution | Minister’s view
Panels on elevated roads and flyovers to reduce noise pollution, so that the din of traffic doesn’t enter houses, offices, hospitals and schools. Since the biggest cause of pollution is construction, owing to cement mixing, it is mandatory to use precast concrete in construction. Planting trees and landscaping lawns can help get rid of all that dust on and around roads, dust that picks up whenever cars pass.
“We don‘t take the issue of air pollution seriously enough”

On the sidelines…
Seaplanes it is, but where is the river?
The Union minister wasn’t aware if any river flowed through Gurgaon but he was keen on sharing his plans for starting seaplane services across India, following his experience in one such craft, in Mumbai recently. If Gurgaon had water bodies, he said, Gurugrammers would be able to get around in seaplanes. Unfortunately, rampant development has seen to it that all but a couple of handful of water bodies, big and small, have been encroached upon or built over entirely. Still, considering the extent of waterlogging that takes place during the monsoon, catamarans, hovercraft and amphibious buses might not be such a bad idea!
Gurgaon’s deputy commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh with subdivisional magistrate Vivek Kalia

The future of transport is on its way
There was a touch of the sci-fi to the town hall, what with mention made of pod taxis and water buses. At least, the way Nitin Gadkari couched certain modes of travel, it felt as if the future, which often passes India by, is on its way – a future that has people commuting on air and buses ‘tripping’ on water. But the minister wasn’t talking out of his hat, for India has enough waterways to make at least his idea of amphibious travel feasible. Talking of waterways, Gadkari also provided a status report on the Ganga Rejuvenation plan, one of the prime minister’s pet projects.
GMDA CEO V Umashankar, senior town planner Sudhir Chouhan and curator of the Gurgaon camera museum Aditya Arya

Promoting the green mode of commuting
The NH-24, which connects Delhi to Meerut, will be the country’s first highway with 14 lanes. Of more significance, it will have dedicated lanes for cyclists, of a width of two-and-a-half metres. Nitin Gadkari is determined to promote alternative, and non-polluting, forms of transport. Now, it’s for cycle enthusiasts in Delhi and UP to take the next step, and organise a bicycle race between the Capital and Meerut, on the lines of Europe’s classic one-day road races. Gadkari will be only too happy to flag off the inaugural edition.

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