You always knew Mumbai was congested. Well, here are the statistics. Since 2008, about 17 lakh vehicles have been registered in the city, whose total road length is 2,000 km.
Added to existing vehicles, the vehicle density of the city works out to 725 per km, much more than double the international average of 300.
“This is the problem we have to face,” government pleader Dhairyasheel Nalavade told the Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday, replying to a PIL filed by the Bombay Bar Association (BBA) and advocate Armin Wandrewala.
The PIL points out the pitiable state of traffic in the city. Wandrewala argued in the court that: the traffic lights system is imperfect, creating confusion and leading to accidents; there are no proper zebra crossings; traffic policemen do not prevent pedestrians from breaking rules. He said so lackadaisical is the approach to traffic that zebra crossing paints do not last more than 4-5 months.
“It is noted regrettably that even the traffic police sometimes (perhaps unwittingly) encourage the breaking of signals (maybe to expedite flow of traffic) by urging vehicles to come forward, even on zebra crossings, irrespective of red signal. This habituates vehicle drivers to not respect signals,” the PIL says. Also, at several signals, including major junctions, the time lag between red and green is not sufficient to allow complete passage of vehicular traffic from a particular direction.
The PIL seeks strict implementation of the rules and punishment for violators.
Nalavade quoted the figures from an affidavit filed by the assistant commissioner of police (administration). The affidavit also stated that the state has installed “state-of-art” area traffic systems as well as CCTV cameras at 253 junctions in the city. “There are about 3,000 policepersons in the traffic department, of whom 2,600 constables are on duty at a time,” Nalavade said.
The HC division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice SC Dharmadhikari, which is hearing the PIL, has directed the state to consider increasing the number of traffic constables. The court has also called for the minutes of the meetings held by the traffic advisory committee since January 1. Besides, it has directed the BMC to complete the painting of zebra crossings across the city by September 30.
The court inquired about the steps the traffic department is taking against jaywalkers. It also suggested that school and college students be roped in to man traffic, but Wandrewala suggested that the task should be entrusted to adults rather than children.
The bench has directed the state to file an affidavit in three weeks.