Cops carry out an eviction drive in Patna. Telegraph picture
Patna High Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the state government for failing to list what steps it intends to take to clear the city's roads of encroachments.
The court observed that this was due to lack of co-ordination between different agencies and directed the government to file its reply within four weeks.
A division bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Anil Kumar Upadhyay passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Public Interest Litigation Forum, which had highlighted poor traffic management in the city.
The petitioner's lawyer, Shashi Bhushan Kumar, told the court that traffic jams seem to have become perpetual in Patna causing great inconvenience to people.
On August 21, the high court had directed the state government to file a reply within two weeks on measures taken to ease traffic flow.
However, the state government failed to submit its reply on the matter on Wednesday, and that irked the court.
All parties in the case - Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB), the state government, the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Patna police - had earlier been directed to file a counter-affidavit in the case.
While the pollution control board filed the counter-affidavit, the government, the police, and the PMC are yet to file their reply.
On Wednesday, when the state government counsel asked for more time from the court to file its counter affidavit, the bench said: "How much time you need to file the affidavit?... It seems there is no co-ordination between the government and the Patna Municipal Corporation."
The government counsel then requested the bench to grant him four weeks more to file the counter affidavit, and assured the judges that it would be filed within the time limit.
Later, the court acceded to the plea.
Patna suffers from perennial traffic congestion and yearlong jams, the petitioner's lawyer had told the court. Reaching one's office, college or home on time has become a daily challenge andabsence of mass transport system is the main cause for the mess the traffic is in.
The city's threadbare infrastructure is also adding to the woes of commuters.
Adding to the pedestrians' woes, the petitoner's lawyer said, was the fact that they were being forced to cross busy roads with moving traffic as the footpaths are not useable and there were hardly any zebra crossings or pedestrian signals at even major crossings in the city.
Even where there are zebra crossings, they are hardly followed in spirit, he said.
"Poor traffic management, badly timed signals and pot-holed roads are to blame for massive traffic mess," he said.
In the past, both the PMC and the district administration had launched several anti-encorachemnt drives, particularly in areas where there is heavy traffic load like Station Road, Ashok Rajpath, Boring Canal Road.
Each time, however, the squatters re-appear days after the drive ends.