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Capital plan for clogged roads

New Delhi, Oct. 22: It’s Delhi transport’s Vision 2006. After the metro rail, the Delhi government plans to introduce electric trolley buses, high-capacity bus systems and a modern version of trams to check the growing vehicular congestion in the city.

This will be part of the integrated mass public transport system the Delhi government intends to put in place to dissuade people from using their own vehicles. Much of the capital’s traffic chaos comes from private vehicles, government officials feel.

Announcing the new policy today, chief minister Sheila Dikshit said: “It’s a long-term traffic policy which will cater to increasing loads on Delhi roads.” She described the Delhi transport system as “very unsatisfactory”.

According to government estimates, the daily transport demand is expected to reach 279 lakh in 2021 in comparison to 139 lakh last year. By the end of 2021, the number of vehicles will be more than the city’s expected population of 230 lakh, choking the roads further.

Transport minister Ajay Maken, who was present at the press meet, said the policy’s main aim is to give priority to buses, which will compliment and supplement the upcoming metro rail covering 245 kilometres across the city. Apart from the CNG-run Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses, the government plans to ply electric trolley buses and high-capacity buses in selected corridors.

The government will also launch Light Rail Transit, a new version of trams, for the walled city since there is little room for buses to ply on its narrow roads.

Dikshit said the ambitious project will be completed in phases within 2006. For operational purposes, it has been divided into 55 action points, each with a time limit.

Although the Delhi government has made public its new transport policy, it’s still to get clearance from the Union ministries of railway and urban development, and from the Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments, Maken said. The 10th Five Year Plan has earmarked Rs 5,440 crore for implementation of the plan.

Maken said an Integrated Metropolitan Transport Authority (IMTA), which would look after issues like fares and functioning of the transport system, will also be set up. Till the IMTA comes into existence, the government would like to constitute a Delhi Transport Planning Group (DTPG) so that the project’s progress does not suffer in the absence of a decision-making and coordinating body.

A Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Cell, functioning under the aegis of the Delhi transport department, is being mulled to assist the DTPG.

Key inputs in formulating the policy came from a report submitted recently by the Committee on Sustainable Transport, the chief minister said. Headed by Delhi chief secretary Shailaja Chandra, the panel comprised leading experts on transport policy matters, like IIT professor Dinesh Mohan, former Rites managing director B.I. Singhal and department of personnel and training joint secretary O.P. Agarwal.

This kind of modern mass transit system is operating successfully in China and countries in South America, explained Dinesh Mohan. He was confident that it would help people shift from two-wheelers to mass transport, provided they get the services nearer to their homes and offices. Mass transport would reduce traffic accidents and make the city beautiful and livable, he added.

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