This is our city. We do not want a flyover here.
This was the message delivered by Chandigarhians who came in droves to attend the public hearing on the flyover at the UT guest house on Monday. Passions ran high as residents — young, old and middle-aged — flooded the guest house, leaving the UT Administration officials in a tizzy as they punctured the claim that the proposed Rs 184 crore flyover was a result of public demand. Never before had the guest house seen such impassioned citizen activists, who came armed with drawings, presentations, articles, cuttings and children. Over 80 people made presentations.
“I want my children to see those trees, you can never grow them again,” thundered a woman. A youngster said, “Sir, I know there are some issues, but this is my city, I don’t want this flyover.” The residents went to the extent of obliquely calling the project a money-making gimmick. Such was their fervour that even the frequent announcements of free tea on a very chilly evening couldn’t drive them away from the meeting. Most of them sat till the very end, determined to drive home their point.
UT Adviser Manoj Parida began the hearing stating that he was overwhelmed by huge response and people can give their submissions in writing as well.
Colonel Kuldeep, who was the first one to begin, said he opposed the flyover. “Once you open this bottleneck, problems will pile up at the next point. And one after the other, there will be flyovers and flyovers, which will completely ruin the city,” he said.
Gautam Kachroo, a resident, spoke about the need to have a holistic traffic management plan for the city instead of spoiling the unique character of the City Beautiful with a flyover.
“I am entirely against the flyover. I want that there should be a holistic approach to traffic management. Traffic is piling up and we should look at smart traffic management solution in the city which is in consonance with the smart city goals. Why don’t we have a solution where one signal can communicate with another signal? Green corridors, tunnels, various sensor radars can be used where not just those with vehicles will get a smooth ride but it will be convenient for pedestrians and cyclists as well.”
An architect, Pallav Mukherjee, remarked that the project is just like the underpass between Rose Garden and Sector 17 which isn’t of any use.
“I do not want this flyover. The problem is traffic. You have to stop at a chowk for two to three times. This is not the way to solve the problem of traffic. What we need is the mobility plan and not this flyover. We should have a high capacity bus. For example in Tokyo, they don’t have traffic problem because people there travel by mass rapid transport system. Why can’t we have it here? There are so many solutions to solve this traffic problem which, if we want, can begin from January 1, 2020,” he said.
Senior Advocate M L Sareen, while voicing his opposition, said he has been living in Chandigarh since January 1, 1955. “I have been a resident of City Beautiful since January 1, 1955, and am very saddened at the deterioration in the quality of air and life generally in Chandigarh over the last six and a half decades. Chandigarh master plan 2031 does not allow flyovers and we cannot do away with the master plan which has been formulated after detailed consideration. Please look at the real problem which is traffic management. Each tree produces 117 kilograms of oxygen and look at the amount of it we lose from the number of trees that will be axed. We won’t be a green city then. Please do not let this flyover come up,” he said.
Inderjeet Ghai, a consultant with the Ministry of Road Transport, said that the problem of traffic at this point will automatically be solved if they make a bypass and the traffic will be diverted. “You are not coming up with a proposal that will sustain for next 50 years. Flyover won’t work,” he said.
Architect Tarun Mathur gave a presentation where he said that just a single junction-free signal will be sufficient to solve the traffic problem.
Another resident, Harmeet Singh, also voiced his strong opposition. “While taking a U-turn at the roundabout here, one has to stop the vehicle thrice. I personally feel all the roundabouts be removed and one can have automated control lights. Tribune flyover is not required at all,” he said.
Charu Gupta, another resident in her 20s, said that Le Corbusier will be turning in his grave if he were to hear about the way they were ruining the city by building a flyover. “And yes, I need those trees which you will axe. I need those trees for my kids. I need those for my city. I bet no one in your horticulture department is capable of planting those trees which were planted 50 years ago,” she said.
Harbans Garg from the Residents’ Welfare Association, Sector 45, was blunt enough to say, “Kindly use these funds for city roads. Traffic can easily be diverted from outskirts itself.’’
N K Jhingan, an environmentalist, said that not enough trees are left in the city and he is completely against this project. “We should have CNG buses. People can go in for car pooling. Private companies can be asked to have buses for their employees. We should look at the traffic problem in a holistic manner,” the environmentalist said.
Budania L R said that having a flyover was against the master plan and the problem will shift to GMCH point. “I have seen that the trees that have been replanted have died. Why are you just talking of traffic problem at one point? Why not find a solution to the traffic problem as a whole? There are other points like Madhya Marg which are completely choked.”
A retired engineer, Chander Prakash, submitted that he has never been held up for more than five minutes at the roundabout. “No one is talking about reducing the traffic. Chandigarh will be flooded with flyovers then,” he said.
P K Aggarwal, a retired chief manager, said that “we should go in for a comprehensive plan”. He opposed the flyover.
Senior advocate Rita Kohli wondered why we are going ahead with the flyover when urban planning department has been giving alternatives. “All architects have been opposing it. Planning department that is supposed to do planning is opposing it. We fail to understand why we are going ahead with it. Heritage committee never wanted it. Bangalore, Pune they all are suffering because of a flyover,” she said.
Vinod Vashisht , convener, CFORWO, said that “Tribune flyover’s current project is ill-conceived and against the unique character of one-level roads in the original phase-1 master plan of the city”.
“It will only ease congestion at one point, but won’t ease traffic on the whole stretch from Tribune chowk to Hallomajra light point. Moreover, the gateway road of Chandigarh will become sinusoidal road with number of crests and troughs. It’s just like sprucing from gate of a house and shifting filth in front of left and right neighbours’ houses. Instead go for an underpass of a longer stretch to cover Hallomajra light point as well,” he said.
Former chief architect of Chandigarh Sumit Kaur, who is part of the heritage committee and had opposed it then, had no other option to come and voice her views in the public hearing that flyover was not required.
“I have worked on the master plan with experts. This proposal of flyover is unfortunately very myopic. We should have a holistic plan. There are many cities abroad that are pulling down the flyover. The flyover is not a solution. Moreover, it has not been considered that it will be 11 metres high, which will be above the existing buildings as well and it is a violation of urban land use as well,” she said.
R K Garg, an activist, even pointed out that no procedure was followed while surveying if a flyover was needed. He opposed the flyover.
Vinit, a college student at Landran, said that he opposed the flyover as it would destroy “the unique character of his city which he is proud of”.
Pearl, 25, who had come with an alternative plan with her architect colleagues, said that they can do anything for their city and they just do not want a flyover.
Only BJP leaders in support
Chandigarh: BJP leaders led a small group which supported the flyover. Some of them even went ahead to say “the city should have three more flyovers” but they couldn’t provide any justification. The flyover is the pet project of MP Kirron Kher, who had got it approved from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The approvals for the Rs 184 crore project were given despite strong objections from the heritage committee and department of urban planning.
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