BRT is not only a 5.8 Km Long Road but Synonymous with Democratic Development Planning in Cities
New Delhi, December 18 : In the backdrop of the Delhi High Court Judgement upholding the right of the state to develop ‘a sustainable urban transport policy’ and common people’s democratic right over the road, in the case asking for scrapping of the BRT project, a meeting in was organised today by the National Alliance of people’s Movements at N D Tiwari Bhawan. The meeting was attended by nearly 150 cycle users, enthusiasts, workers, students, IT professionals, activists and experts who use various modes of public transport and are concerned about the overgrowing burden on the city roads due to exponential growth of privately owned vehicles.
Domestic Workers of Shahri Mahila Kaamgaar Union from Gautampuri Basti who take cycles to their workplace narrated their experience of using roads in Delhi. They said, “Delhi roads are not safe for women, so negotiating space on the road is a double challenge. We not only negotiate arrogance of motor bike and car owners but also face harassment from men. In a such a situation, if cycle is empowering and provides mobility to us then a concept like BRT, with dedicated cycle lanes will go a long way in promoting gender equality, making city safe and also uphold fundamental rights of the citizens.”
Prof. Geetam Tiwari, Indian Institute of Delhi, said, “the HC judgement is a milestone for the development of public transport in the country and has certainly brought relief to the struggling groups and public transport users in various cities. Delhi is not only the capital but as a city is the role model for city development across the country. Scrapping of BRT could have set a bad precedent”.
Prof. Dinesh Mohan, Indian Institute of Delhi, said the development of infrastructure in cities can not be out of sync with the citizens. The fact that a meeting like this is being oganised now speaks for itself, since ten years before we would talk about communalism, caste, rural development, land acquisition, migration, agrarian distress but not about urban development, transport and issues of equity and justice. So, it is a welcome change and reflective of the growing urbanisation. This means the political class and planners have to pay attention to an integrated and comprehensive planning with view to ensuring the rights and basic services to the majority – workers, slum dwellers, small traders, artisans, urban poor and so on. The current model of city development is unsustainable and we can’t go on like this”.
The meeting was also attended by Ashok Dubey and Shree Prakesh (Indore); Virendra Vidrohi (Alwar); Sudhir Badami (Mumbai); Sujeet Patwardhan (Pune); Leo Saldanha (Bangalore) who shared their experiences of the public transport in respective cities. Narrating the experience of development of BRT corridors or public transport in their respective cities they said, there are mainly two kinds of challenges. Firstly, is opposition and pressure form the car, auto mobile and builder lobby which sees it as a threat to their business. Secondly, which is socially much deep rooted, where owning a car is considered a sign of prosperity and class status, as a result, enforcement agencies or those responsible for its development don’t embrace the idea and concept and are never serious about it. There have been cases where, even after construction of dedicated lanes for buses, cycles and pedestrians they are encroached by private vehicles. So, the need for change is at much larger scale across the society.
Leo Saldanha of Environment Support Group, Bangalore said, the questions at stake are more fundamental and central to the democratic principles of governance, it is not about some rules or legislations, since they can be changed at will. Our struggles are an assertion of these fundamental democratic rights and moral rights of the communities.
Rajendra Ravi, State Convener of NAPM, who moderated the discussion said that a myth is being created of Delhi being a global city. However, Metro, flyovers, broad roads and shining buildings don’t make a city global. Global and sustainable cities are those in which even aam aurat finds a space for realising their dream of a happy family and home with the basic facilities. Today’s Delhi is not that, and to reach there a city based on the principles of equity and justice has to be built. It can’t only cater to the needs of the rich citizens.
Those gathered at the meeting showed their commitment to the cause of public transport and vowed to oppose any challenge to the BRT and struggle for its widest possible coverage in the city and elsewhere.
Prof. Ajit Jha from Delhi University, Romy Roy, Unified traffic and Transportation Infrastructure Centre(UTTIPEC), Sandeep Gandhi, Urban Transport Planer, Delhi and many others participated in the meeting.
Anita Kapoor, Nanu Gupta, Sunita Rani, Seela Manaswanee
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