The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Delhi government to make non-motorised lanes (NMVs) in the city operational by January 1 to encourage the use of cycles. The court’s order comes in the light of the government’s odd-even number policy, announced last week as part of its pollution control measures.
Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Muralidhar also directed the North corporation and police to remove encroachments by religious structures on the Chandni Chowk road within four weeks.
The directions were issued while hearing a 2009 PIL regarding decongestion of Chandni Chowk and creation of dedicated NMV lanes in the city.
“By your own policies, you want people to use cycles. Have you seen the rise in number of cyclists on weekends?” asked the bench. The court also pulled up the government after noting that most of the “operational stretches” of NMV lanes were very short.
“You have a short NMV lane that meets a road which does not have an NMV lane. What’s the use?” said the bench, which has now directed the government, Delhi police and traffic police to work out modalities by next week for making the “largest stretches” of NMV lanes operational.
The bench took note of the affidavit filed by the government, which stated that 108 km of lanes were operational in the city.
Delhi government standing counsel Rahul Mehra, however, said it is necessary to deploy “marshalls” to ensure that people actually use the lanes as per the law and motorised vehicles do not enter.
The traffic police, in its affidavit, also admitted that most of the NMV lanes and pavements in the city were “not operational” due to encroachments.
According to the government, the ‘longest’ NMV stretch is on the 7.5 km Mehrauli-Gurgaon road, which also has several obstructions and encroachments at various points.
“Identify the longest stretches of NMV lanes. You need to sit down with police and work it out,” said the bench.
The court has granted time till next week for the government to come out with a workable plan. “Don’t be overambitious. Do what you can,” cautioned the court.