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Chandigarh

Posted at: Dec 28, 2017, 1:58 AM; last updated: Dec 28, 2017, 1:58 AM (IST)

No longer a 10-minute city, this Chandigarh

No longer a 10-minute city, this Chandigarh
To decrease congestion on roads, car pooling seems to be a feasible option that would also promote greater interaction among neighbours and office-goers. File photo

Vivek Atray

Those of us who have been residing in these parts for more than two decades, surely, miss the calm and ease of living which Chandigarh presented to us back then. Times have changed to such an extent that driving from one part of the city to another requires a lot of honking, extreme patience and frenzied calls to those waiting, to inform them that one is stuck in traffic. And if one is headed to a wedding on the outskirts of the tricity, the experience could be rather harrowing.

There was a time when one could traverse the length or breadth of the city in a matter of ten minutes, even though the cars were more rickety and less zippy. Not anymore. A well- respected public figure mentioned at a public function recently that it takes 10 minutes to get anywhere in Chandigarh. Alas, this luxury no longer exists, unless one is moving to a neighbouring sector.

The reasons for the tremendous levels of increase in road occupancy are not difficult to discern. The number of commercial and private vehicles on our roads has catapulted to the realms of the unfathomable. And since ‘Chandigarh-types’ are not deterred by the levying of large sums of road tax et al, it is clear that some other measures have to be promulgated in a hurry. 

While parking fee hikes may also not work to the extent that is thought possible, what might be effective is the young brigade which lives here in their thousands. 

A clear-cut message needs to be sent to parents through their wards by all schools that car pooling is not only a choice, it is an essentiality. And one suspects that children will cajole or even coerce their folks to comply when the teachers make it a point to hammer home a campaign to promote pooling. And this plan should not extend only to the cars dropping off children at educational institutions, but also to places of work.

I remember the days when I was posted as a young under secretary in the government, and contrary to popular belief, under secretaries are not served by official cars and drivers! I used to drive the family’s old blue Maruti 800 to work every day, until I noticed an amiable-looking bespectacled gentleman doing exactly the same each morning. On making some polite enquiries, I discovered that he, Dr Naresh Gupta, lived near my home and our work places were adjacent too. We not only started pooling our cars (though we mostly used his), we also became such good friends that we are like family today.

Parents listen to their kids more than anyone else and grandparents to their grandchildren. We must launch a campaign through the teens to stem the burgeoning volumes of vehicles on the roads, by making car pooling a norm. The fringe benefit of this idea would be greater interaction amongst neighbours and office-goers. Camaraderie would increase, and egos will go for a toss!

Communities across the world spend time and effort to come up with solutions to common problems. The tricity needs to get its act together now, and not wait for better public transport measures to fall in place. 

It is said change is the only constant. It is certainly time for a change in the way we travel to work, my friends. Let us make a beginning today, and save ourselves from multiple metro-like headaches in the years to come!

(The writer is a retired IAS officer)


Check congestion

The number of commercial vehicles on the roads has catapulted to the realms of the unfathomable. Since ‘Chandigarh-types’ are not deterred by the levying of large sums as road tax, some other measures have to be promulgated in a hurry

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