A serious official exercise to contain the burgeoning road traffic in the Doon valley is long overdue now. The reasons: frequent road accidents, traffic jams, parking problem, shrinking space for pedestrians and ever increasing pollution in the valley. Over the past few years, the number of vehicles registered in Regional Transport Office in Dehradun has gone up phenomenally going way beyond the earlier stated figure of ten lakh. As it were, motor vehicles of all descriptions come to the local RTO office almost on a daily basis for registration even as thousands of other vehicles not registered in the state, also ply on narrow roads of the city and the adjoining areas.
Thus, every day one can see two and four-wheelers of all descriptions vying with each other, specially during the rush hours, on the narrow roads, lanes and by lanes of the city. The erratic movement of big vehicles, comprising of big cars, trucks and buses, often causes chaos on the roads and inconvenience to the public. Office-goers, school going children, sick and old are worse affected as they are not able to reach their destination on time. Many times sick people die because of delayed medical attention and similarly potential candidates going for a job interview or written examination are not able to make it on time.
One often reads about frequent road accidents due to erratic vehicular movement and traffic rule violations. Heavy pressure on the roads makes it difficult for the traffic police to monitor vehicular movement effectively. Never ever before this was the situation so grim.
No less worrisome is the parking problem within the city. Whatever little parking space is available to the vehicle owners is not sufficient at any given point of time. All public parking places are always full including those with paid parking. Think of it, a moderate family person owning a small car is not able to go to many places in the city now because of the fear of not being able to park his or her car safely. Moreover, a lurking fear of swift traffic police action in the eventuality of wrong parking dissuades him to go out. It’s worthwhile to mention here that very often old people are faced with such a dilemma. The heavy traffic also poses a problem for pedestrians who are always fearful while walking on the road side pathways.
Over the years Doon valley has also experienced increasing pollution due to vehicular traffic, intensified construction activity and felling of trees besides increasing population. Owing to this vehicular and demographic pressure on the valley and its roads a significant increase in pollution levels has been registered now. It is high time the state government pondered over the situation keeping in view the future scenario. First and foremost, authorities will have to monitor the registration of vehicles not allowing one family to own more than one four wheeler and one two wheeler. Broadening of roads wherever possible must be done at the earliest. Clean and efficient public transport system must be introduced decreasing the dependence of the people on their private vehicles. Metro rail system which is on the anvil for the valley may help reduce the pressure on the roads to some extent, if and when it comes into existence.
A point to ponder
Many among us are aware that Press or Fourth Estate plays a significant role in strengthening the democratic norms in a democratic political dispensation. Like the other three pillars of democracy viz executive, legislature and judiciary, the members of the Fourth Estate have a special significance in democratic political system. The members of the Fourth Estate not only educate and entertain the people through audio, video and written presentations but also act as a bridge between the people and the day’s government. Thus, it can be safely said that influence of mass media on the general run of people is vast and abiding. People tend to from their opinions based on the information from various segments of the mass media. Even the politicians and people in authority do look up to the journalists for passing their messages to targeted audience. Despite this fact, when it comes to according respect and security to the journalists, both the Centre and respective state governments are found miserably wanting in that respect. Often it pains when the members of the press scheduled to meet some
VIP or VIPs on a specific call or their own just to give coverage to them, are absolutely ill-treated by the so- called security staff. Having a very long experience in the profession of journalism, I have seen even senior journalists being put to embarrassing security check ups as if they are some criminals being taken into some prison. Most of these media persons are well know to the administration, yet this kind of treatment is meted out to them. How is it that authorities are not able to ensure that members of the press are there for a particular official purpose and that too, most of the time, on an invitation? By and large, exceptions apart, members of the press are part of an enlightened section of society and would always conduct themselves politely within their limits. Thus, the simple question that comes to mind is why, in that case, they should be so ill-treated at the entrance premises by the cops or security personnel? It’s in everybody’s knowledge that the state’s information department is well aware of the credentials of each accredited and non accredited journalist and their association with the media houses.
Most of the VIPs and the VVIPs of the state are also personally known to some senior journalists, yet they are also not given due regard by the security personnel and other subsidiary staff. Thus, it is high time that VIPs and VVIPs ensured that the members of the press are treated in a dignified manner when they enter their premises. It is also worthwhile to mention here that the journalists who often highlight social causes never get social security from the powers that be, and that’s it.
(The writer is a veteran journalist based in Dehradun)