The Supreme Court has constituted a committee to evolve a "comprehensive traffic management plan" for Kaushambi, Ghaziabad.
A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna passed a direction in this regard in a writ petition filed by the President of the Kaushambi Apartments Resident Welfare Association under Article 32 of the Constitution, highlighting a magnitude of problems faced by Kaushambi, Ghaziabad residents.
The petition highlighted several issues, ranging from haphazard traffic management to environmental pollution and unrestricted dumping of municipal solid waste. As a result, it has been submitted that the residents of the area are suffering from serious respiratory issues. There is an added concern over contaminated ground water.
The bench decided to take up the problem of traffic management at the first instance. It observed that it cannot be seen as a mere law enforcement problem and a comprehensive traffic management plan was needed.
"...we are categorically of the view that the problems which have confronted Kaushambi and Ghaziabad, in general,cannot be treated in a manner isolated from the wider context of the National Capital Region. This is not merely a matter which pertains to the Ghaziabad Development Authority or, for that matter, other authorities within the State of Uttar Pradesh alone. There has to be a coordinated effort on the part of the authorities within the Government of NCT of Delhi, East Delhi Municipal Corporation as well as the statutory authorities in the State of Uttar Pradesh having jurisdiction in the area", the Court observed in the order.
It has formed a committee with the following members :
(i)Divisional Commissioner, Meerut;
(ii)Chairperson, Ghaziabad Development Authority;
(iii)Municipal Commissioner, Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam;
(iv)District Magistrate, Ghaziabad;
(v)The Chairperson of UPSRTC;
(vi)Senior Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad;
(vii)Municipal Commissioner, East Delhi Municipal Corporation;
(viii)A senior officer to be nominated by the Commissioner of Police; and
(ix)The Transport Secretary of the Government of NCT of Delhi.
The District Magistrate, Ghaziabad shall be the nodal officer of the Committee. The comprehensive traffic management plan has to be submitted within three weeks.
Concerted and joint efforts by authorities needed
The Court observed that unless all the authorities put their heads together and jointly agree on aconcerted effort to manage the traffic problems, a resolution would not be possible.
The Court observed :
"Some of these problems do not necessarily originate in Ghaziabad,such as the problem which is caused by the back-up of vehicles at toll booths.The Anand Vihar Terminal, the Court has been apprised, takes care of the need of the buses of the Delhi Transport Corporation and inter-state buses which originate and terminate at the Terminal. However, we do find that there is a total absence of adequate space for the parking of other public service vehicles including intra-state buses within Ghaziabad, as a result of which the vehicles are parked in a haphazard manner on public roads, including service roads.
Infact, we find from the photographs, which have been produced by the petitioners, that there is even a public board stipulating that the parking in the area is prohibited under the order of the NGT. Despite this, the photographs indicate that vehicles are still being parked around the same area. This problem has to be addressed by proper management of traffic and creating adequate space for parking of public service vehicles. Merely treating it as a matter of law enforcement will not provide a long lasting solution. Ad hoc reactions to a deeper malaise will bring no relief to the residents, users of public transport and those providing public transport".
The Court noted that the National Green Tribunal had earlier passed a slew of directions for the resolution of problems affecting the area. However, the situation at the ground level has not changed substantially.
"Merely treating the matter as a law enforcement issue, particularly in the area of traffic management, will not solve the problem. Experience shows that a direction by the Court to the law enforcement machinery may result in some action, even high-handed action for a few days, until the position is restored to the original status which becomes the new "normal". Hence, a comprehensive traffic management plan has to be drawn up to deal with the situation. This will be in addition to the directions issued by the NGT and will not detract from them or from the supervision by the NGT", the Court added.
Grievances of the petitioners
Advocate Gaurav Goel, appearing on behalf of the petitioners, submitted that the residents are suffering as a result of:
(i)Haphazard parking of three wheelers and other vehicles on public roads,including service roads;
(ii)The absence of adequate spaces for the parking of public service vehicles;
(iii)The pollution which is generated by buses plied by the Uttar Pradesh StateRoad Transport Corporation1;
(iv)Use of pressure horns by vehicles; and(v)The total absence of implementation by the law enforcement machinery which causes a serious hardship to pedestrians and residents of the area.
Senior Advocate Gharima Prasad, appearing on behalf of the UPSRTC, submitted that UPSRTC had acquired about nine acres of land for the setting up of a bus station. However, it appears that the front portion of the land was allotted in the recent past for the development of a mall. In the counter affidavit, it is stated that there is sufficient space for parking of buses and the existing available space within the area of nine acres is used for the purpose of parking and a workshop has also been set up for the purpose of maintenance. It has been stated in the counter affidavit and reiterated in the submissions that UPSRTC has 134 CNG buses which ply in Delhi-NCR and Ghaziabad region and as a matter of policy, an effort is being made to increase the number of CNG vehicles.
Case Title : V K Mittal and Another v Union of Delhi and others
Bench : Justices DY Chandrachud, MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna
Citation : LL 2021 SC 190