Saturday, March 15, 2014

HC summons authorities for charging higher toll tax

FEROZEPUR: Taking serious note of reports of charging of higher tax from commuters at the two toll plazas on Ferozepur-Fazilka highway, the Punjab and Haryana high court has issued notices to principal secretary (PWD), director, Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) and Chetak Enterprises Private Limited. The case will come up for hearing on April 1, 2014.

Parmod Chaudhary and his brother Vikas Chaudhary of Jalalabad had filed a petition in the HC seeking directions against charging of double the actual toll amount and to the concessionaire to abide by the agreement for development and maintenance of the 84.425km Ferozepur-Fazilka road.

The petitioners also claimed that the Punjab, PIDB and Chetak Enterprises entered into Ferozepur-Fazilka road concession agreement in March 2006. "At the time of signing the agreement, it was mutually decided that the operator company, Chetak Enterprises, would charge a prescribed amount of 0.35 paise per km for entire 84.425km stretch. It was also consented that the operator may add an increase 10% in the prescribed amount annually till 2011. But on the contrary, commuters are fleeced by being charged Rs 92 as one-way toll fee, which is almost double the amount prescribed in the agreement," they alleged. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sustainable living should be part of political agenda: Navdeep Asija

Vineet Gill, TNN | Mar 1, 2014, 01.51AM IST

GURGAON: Navdeep Asija is an expert on road safety and sustainable transport who currently works as the technical adviser for the Punjab government's transport department. Having made his way from Chandigarh to Gurgaon last Sunday, Asija was among the many Raahgiri Day participants. He spoke to TOI about the impact this event has had on the general mindset, and about how sustainable development may soon become a talking point for politicians.

How important is it to have dedicated stretches for non-motorized transport on urban roads today?

Actually, this comes under the fundamental rights. There is a court judgment from the '80s which talks about 'right to healthy living.' The latest National Transport Policy also talks about this in pressing terms. Right to walk, to cycle, and to breathe clean air is a constitutional right. It was only recently, in the year 2010, that the Punjab and Haryana high court issued a directive to both these neighbouring states, asking them to have at least one car-free street in each of their cities. So authorities in Gurgaon, sooner or later, are bound to pay heed to these directives, even if they seem a little reluctant as of now to fully embrace the new sustainability agenda.

What, according to you, explains this reluctance on the part of the local civic agencies?

I found that they are very pro-motorized transport in some way, which is very sad. Since our policy makers travel in cars, all they basically want to do is facilitate the movement of cars on the roads. And this is why we still keep getting those grand 16-lane highways in big cities.

You recently attended an edition of Raahgiri Day in Gurgaon. Do you think this event has played a positive part in changing the mindsets and creating a demand for non-motorized infrastructure?

Raahgiri Day has indeed proved that such events and experiments are excellent in order to generate public opinion in favour of sustainable development. It has acted as an important advocacy tool. In my opinion, we should have a Raahgiri Day in every city, because this can be of direct help to the civic agencies also. By showing that there is a demand for NMT infrastructure, it simplifies the task of the authorities.

So what should be the next step for Raahgiri campaign?

People of this city have given their mandate. Now it is the duty of the civic officials to live up to the expectations by delivering what is being demanded - an upgrade of the NMT infrastructure here. I am also hopeful that in this election year, sustainable development will become part of the political agenda. In fact, all political parties should include this in their manifestos. Flyovers cost hundreds of crores. A little attention to sustainable living costs close to nothing.