They used to be painted in black, white and yellow — three colours approved by international highway codes for their high visibility. But last year, months after the arrival of the BJP government at the Centre, kerb stones along the roads of New Delhi were painted green and saffron, colours suggestive of the ruling party’s flag.
Now, Delhi Traffic Police has asked the newly appointed chairman of NDMC to have the kerb stones repainted back to black and yellow to ensure safety on roads. Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander said, “I discussed several issues pivotal to road markers and signs, all of which are meant to ensure safety on roads and avert accidents. I reiterated the request to NDMC chairperson Naresh Kumar that kerb stones in Lutyens Delhi be painted back to high-visibility colours of black and yellow. He promised to look into the matter.”
Chander had earlier written to the NDMC for a review of the saffron and green colour scheme, which was introduced as an “aesthetic” initiative. “Most structures in the NDMC area are made of red sandstone (and) the NDMC logo is green” was the logic given at the time.
But the colourful paint used by the NDMC was of regular make, though road safety norms make use of the retro-reflective. thermoplastic variety compulsory. All roads in Lutyens Delhi including Ashoka Road, Parliament Street, Connaught Place roads, Jantar Mantar and Ferozeshah Road now have kerb stones painted saffron and green.
According to Indian Road Congress, the national body of technical highway engineers, “yellow, white and black are the standard colours used for markings”. The same is stated by the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre and International Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, of which India is a ratified member.
“White, yellow and black are most visible in fog and in dark surroundings. Not using them lowers visibility and increases glare, and results in more accidents,” Dr S Velmurugan, HoD of Traffic Engineering and Safety in Central Road Research Institute had said last year.
When this choice was objected to during the low-visibility months of winter, when there is persistent fog, the NDMC got reflector strips pasted on the kerb stones. They did not help much because they kept coming off.
AAP MLA from Wazirpur, Rajesh Gupta, on Friday asked the Speaker to order the NDMC to change the colours, alleging that the BJP deliberately chose saffron and green.
“It is a politically motivated move and that too at the expense of the safety of the citizens. We are flouting international road safety norms at home despite India being party to the conventions. Those colours are not visible at night and sometimes during the day as well.” Gupta told The Indian Express.
He said when the NDMC’s move was criticised by many, including one of its own members, BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi and the Delhi Police, the NDMC went and pasted reflector strips which are now coming off. “They are wasting taxpayers’ money on their whims without giving a second thought to commuter safety. I hope the NDMC does something about this,” he said.