Today I attended an emergency meeting of Traffic Observers (TOs) at Gurgaon’s Mini Secretariat that houses offices of some DCPs of Gurgaon. The meeting was called to introduce the new ADC Mr. Praveen Kumar and it had him and Mr. Satyendra Gupta, DCP/Traffic addressing us.
The new ADC gave instances of our possible support to Gurgaon’s Traffic Department in the form of suggestions on converting some roads to one-way, synchronising traffic lights, filling of ditches, putting up appropriate road signage and more. He insisted that TOs share their suggestions in writing and that he was serious about taking the city traffic management forward. He recounted aspects of Chandigarh and London roads that could work well in Gurgaon.
As I heard that the officer was earlier in Chandigarh, I heaved a sigh of relief that my dream of seeing Gurgaon roads assuming a clean and well-managed look of Chandigarh was finally inching towards reality. But I got very worried when a TO brought up an issue concerning parking woes of Gurgaon’s Sadar area or another highlighted the issue of road encroachment as that of paramount concern, as like most meetings I had previously attended, I felt that even this was going to end up with diverse noises and nothing conclusively worked out. I decided to keep aside my hesitation, and found myself giving an overview of how the last year was spent mostly going over much of what we as citizens felt must be done in the city urgently. That we met religiously, gave written suggestions, discussed possible parking patches, and what did that help achieve? The city signage was still woefully inadequate, roads were still unnamed, traffic rules ambivalent, traffic lights rather temperamental and most of all, even though there seemed to be enough traffic personnel around, they didn’t seem motivated to enforce good driving practices among people. In fact there would be no exaggeration in summing up the year-long exercise of TO meetings as a wash-out — even if it appeared to make a Government plan of initiating public participation somewhat real. Even if that plan translated for some individuals into forming NGOs to absorb some form of Government support. The city drivers were still getting away driving in opposite directions, ignoring traffic lights, and the city’s semi-constructed roads were creaking under the mess of vehicles of all sizes and speed.
Mr. Praveen Kumar reassured me and others that things were different. He was keen to get specific suggestions from people and work on them. That gaps in departmental coordination was hardly an issue of concern. In a couple of days, he was going to set up a 24-hour traffic helpline to take suggestions and he needed to know from TOs where street lights were inadequate, traffic lights didn’t help, there were unfilled ditches, parking insufficient, roads be made one-way and where was traffic congestion still unresolved.
Well, by the end of the meeting I’d some renewed hope for the city. I’m about to retrieve my earlier notes, add more suggestions and pass along some printouts to the ADC’s office in a couple of days. Tell me soon if anyone wants anything specific included.