Raps UT for dragging feet on making Sector 17 vehicle-free zone; shop owners lawyer suggests sharp hike in parking rates
Warning the Chandigarh Administration not to test its patience,the Punjab and Haryana High Court today came down heavily on the UT for dragging its feet on the issue of making Sector 17 a vehicle-free zone. As the counsel for the UT Administration sought time to submit its stand,a division bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Ajay Tewari today granted the Administration the last opportunity to place on record its stand by April 20. Speaking for the Bench,Justice Surya Kant told the counsel for the Administration that there should be no doubt that the Court is reluctant in passing an order in this regard.
Do not test our patience. Do not compel us to pass an order which will have far-reaching consequences, warned Justice Surya Kant. Asked whether anything in black and white has been filed by the UT Administration to apprise about the steps taken by the officials,the response came in the negative. Peeved,the division bench remarked that the officials of the Chandigarh Administration do not have this much of respect for the Court that at least an affidavit is filed to apprise the Court of its efforts taken so far.
Nothing is happening except consultations, the Bench observed. The developments took place during the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) arising of a suo motu notice taken by the High Court on a news item published by The Indian Express ,which had highlighted the significance of eco-cabs and environment-friendly cabs,innovated by Fazilka resident Navdeep Asija.
Appearing on behalf of the Sector 17 shop owners,noted lawyer Anupam Gupta suggested that the there should be a sharp increase in the parking fees in Sector 17. Gupta also said that during office hours,essentially from 11 am to 12 noon,Sector 17 can be made a vehicle-free zone.
Submitting that the Chandigarh Traffic Police is withdrawn,Gupta further suggested that deployment of UT Traffic Police officials can serve an efficacious purpose. Assisting the Court,amicus curiae Reeta Kohli added that effective use of underground parking can be made to decongest traffic in Sector 17. A suggestion to make use of a shuttle service for dropping of visitors was also made during the resumed hearing.
Assisting the Court,Advocate APS Shergill alleged that the Chandigarh Administration is not serious about the issue. He further alleged that money has been charged for converting green areas into parking areas.
He said that city beautiful is losing its character. The Bench emphasised that parking space should be made available by the Administration for parking of vehicles.
On the last date of hearing,the High Court had asked the counsel for the Administration to reply on why Sector 17 should not be made a vehicle-free zone after 4 pm. The Bench had suggested that no vehicle should be allowed to enter the Sector 17 market after 4 pm from Lyons restaurant (from Sector 15 side) to Sahab Singh (from Sector 18 side).
Senior Standing Counsel for the Administration Sanjay Kaushal had submitted that the UT has taken a decision to make Sector 17 vehicle-free but in phases.