Chidambaram wrestles with Delhi’s traffic woes - in parliament

February 18th, 2009 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) As if his plate was not overflowing with counter-terrorism and myriad other issues, Home Minister P. Chidambaram found himself fending off a barrage of questions in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday on why life was so difficult for pedestrians in Delhi.
Ever ready to confront a problem head on, Chidambaram spent all of 10 minutes during question hour on explaining why “pedestrians have as much right to the roads as vehicles”, and what he had done to ensure this.

At the heart of the issue was the Gol Dak Khana or circular post office roundabout barely a kilometre from Parliament House. With five arterial roads converging on it, it is a nightmare for pedestrians to cross these roads, which they have to do if they want to get to the post office.

How should the problem be addressed?

“The Gol Dak Khana cannot be shifted because it is a heritage building. Traffic cannot be regulated by lights and therefore, nine policemen are posted at the spot to manually regulate traffic.

“Every two-and-a-half minutes during non-peak hours, they stop the traffic for 20 seconds to enable pedestrians to cross. I have now asked the police commissioner to continue this during peak hours also,” Chidambaram said.

“There is no instant solution. The Delhi Police are doing their best. The CRRI (Central Road Research Institute) is also looking into the matter. I have told them to put on their thinking caps and come up with a solution,” the home minister maintained.

The response came on a question posed by an MP who resides in the neighbourhood and complained he was disadvantaged because he didn’t possess a car.

“Is Delhi only for car owners or for pedestrians also?” Rajniti Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal wondered.

Why, in the first place, was Chidambaram dealing with such a mundane issue?

This is because the home ministry directly controls the Delhi Police. There is now a proposal to trifurcate the force and put law and order and traffic under the Delhi government and VIP security under the home ministry.

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