Online campaign in Agra against traffic chaos (Letter from Agra) (With Images)

July 15th, 2012 - 11:16 am ICT by IANS  

Facebook Agra, July 15 (IANS) Several NGOs and social activists have launched an online campaign against traffic chaos in the Taj city.

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 taken a viral form. District Magistrate Ajay Chauhan has been flooded with email messages.

The Action Plan has received wide support from the internet fraternity both locally and internationally.

This is because the whole of Agra, about 200 km south of Delhi, stands paralysed and helpless against chaotic traffic and generally deteriorating civic amenities.

The worst sufferers are the tourists who are stranded in traffic jams for hours, many swearing never to return, said Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.

Facebook addicts and the media are engaged in animated discussions over what is the right strategy to restore sanity on roads and streamline traffic flow.

“It is a problem that concerns everyone. Unless the citizens of Agra themselves wake up, authorities will not respond,” warned Shishir Bhagat, president of the Wake Up Agra group.

Sportsperson and Agra’s leading shoe exporter Harvijay Bahia however said he is pessimistic.

He says he sees school boys and girls riding their bikes with no helmets, zipping through traffic and putting themselves in grave danger, and least concerned about traffic regulations.

Sanjay Chaturvedi, an expert on traffic management who has 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 not 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, among other things, one-way traffic in tourist areas, demolition of encroachments, stiff fines and penalty on those who flout traffic rules, widening of roads, shifting of statues, memorials and shrines from MG Road, and dedicated lanes for cyclists and pedestrians.

Resident Shravan Kumar Singh said: “In Mysore, authorities launched a campaign to popularise cycles. From commissioner to clerk everyone comes on cycle to offices every Monday. The programme is a huge success.”

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,” lamented Rajiv Tiwari, president of the Federation of Travel Agents.

Piyush Pandey, a cyber journalist, told IANS: “This looks like a unique civic campaign. The results will be eagerly watched.”

(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at brij.k@ians.in)

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