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Monday, March 8, 2010

Edition 11; Chandmal Parmar

Anyone who thinks about the traffic in Pune or in nation at all, can not escape talking about Chandmal Parmar. He is chairman of Kum. Rajashree Parmar Memorial Foundation, which works in the field of road safety and traffic awareness. He is also recipient of the National Safety Award, given by the Union Ministry of Road Transport twice as also member of National Highway Authority.
His work in this field started because of an unfortunate accident. Rajashree, his daughter lost her life in a road accident on Nov. 17, 1989. That personal tragedy turned him into a crusader for the road safety so as to save others from future loss. Working in that direction, he is relentlessly engaged in creating awareness about the hazards of not following proper rules of traffic and road transport. These include procedures in planning and implementation by government as well as actual use by the people in general. As the chairman of Transport Committee of Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), he is also taking up several issues with state and central governments.
Sighting the statistics of accidents in the country, he says, “Absence of discipline on the traffic is major cause of growing numbers of accidents. Girls are equally responsibly for this. To reduce the risk of accidents on our roads, discipline in ourselves, along with measures from the government are the need of hour.”
One of the important issues taken up by Parmar on behalf of MCCIA was that of transport of schoolchildren. A study undertaken by MCCIA had showed
Contd. On Pg. 14
that most of the accidents in city occur outside the schools as vehicles gather at the school buildings to leave and take students. These vehicles include school buses, autorickshaws, vans and two wheelers. MCCIA had convened a meeting of the school authorities but it did not generated much response.
Parmar said this paper, “We took up the matter with the government and now state government is expected to give its decision on it soon. We presented the facts to Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, transport minister of Maharashtra, who recently held a meeting in Pune over transport issues.” The demands made by Parmar are:
The schools should provide space to all vehicles transporting school children into its premise. This will avoid congestion outside building resulting in less danger to the students.
The autorickshaws should not ferry more than five students to and from school. This is a Supreme Court judgment in a suit which Parmar had filed in 2001. A strict implementation of this order is required.
Supreme Court of India had also stipulated that one attendant is necessary in any vehicle carrying schoolchildren.
Drivers and attendant of the school buses should have at least five years of experience.
The buses should be replaced after 8 years.
Countries like Bogotá, which has a size equivalent to Mumbai and population as much as Pune can run the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system efficiently and successfully. Looking at the conditions in Pune, it is bound to be a failure. There should have been changes in the routes and safety of pedestrians should have been kept as foremost priority.
Before embarking on BRT projects, subways should have been provided for the pedestrians to cross the roads. Even heavily congested chowks should also have the subways. But they are lacking in the BRT in Pune, which is chief cause of putting the pedestrians at risk.
When making routes for BRT, roads along the BRT should be bigger than 6.5 or 7 meters wide. This would allow smooth passage for vehicles in case a bus develops problem. This has not been done.
Parmar, through his Foundation as well as through MCCIA has raised the issue of road allocation. He pointed that cycle tracks are not necessary since cycle is least used vehicle in the city. Instead, combined road for cyclists and pedestrians should be provided. BRT should be only on the 48 or 50 feet wide road.
According to Parmar, PMPML should first target poor people, women, senior citizens and children as passengers. There is no use targeting car users as they are not going to switch to the PMPML. “In the price of one AC bus, six normal buses or three low floor buses can be purchased. We have recommended to PMPML to have 60% of latter and 40% of former buses. As per government norms, 47 buses are needed. Thus population of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad requires 2700 buses. PMPML has only 1200 buses out of which only 1000 are on road.
The Metro Project Has Serious Shortfall
Chandmal Parmar talked to City Blog and expressed some objections on the Metro project. These objections were raised in the letters written to Maharashtra government, Dilip Bund, divisional commissioner of Pune and Mahesh Zagade, municipal commisioner. The objections are:
In the planning of the route, Metro rail should connect to the PMPML depot, ST stand and railway station. The purpose should be to provide public with fastest, cheap and convnient mean of transport. This is not done in the present scheme.
If the current scheme is followed, the cost of underground route is Rs 300 crores per kms. While for elevated route it is Rs 50 crores per kms. There is no immediate need for the underground trains. In other cities also, majority of lines are elevated. In Delhi, it is 95%, Mumbai 100%, Hyderabad 90%, Kolkata 95%, Chennai 100% lines are elevated. Only stations are underground. MCCIA has suggested that underground routes should be taken only in third phase.
The routes earmarked for the Metro project are based on the D. P. Rues in 1987. The situation in and around Pune has changed so much, but the changes are not considered. Hence the ground reality of the routes is totally different.
There will be severe problems in the land acquisition. It will delay the implementation of the project resulting in the cost inflation.
Instead of Metro rail, MCCIA has suggested a monorail system. This will bring the cost to Rs 0-40 crores per km. This monorail should support the proposed ring road to be taken from outside the city limits. The monorail should be taken along Nagzira Nalla, which is lying unused.
The gauge of the proposed Metro rail is also a problem. While India has accepted unigauge policy, meaning that all rail lines in the country will run on the broad gauge, Metro rail is proposed to run on the meter gauge. It will create problem in procuring equipments, coaches and manpower for the routes. Also, if there is unigauge system, the metro rails can be easily accommodated with the normal lines in case of emergency. It will not be possible in the meter gauge lines.
u MCCIA has proposed that existing railway line on the Pune-Lonavala route should be strengthened with a third track and frequency of the trains on that route should be increased. Also, railways should start shuttle services on Pune-Daund section which will be later on added with shuttle services on Jejuri and Saswad route.
u Also, MCCIA has asked that the maintenance depot, the dockyard of the Metro should be outside Pune. Because the space required for this depot is too large and looking at the space crunch in the city, it will be futile if existing spaces are taken up.

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