Dehra Dun : Not very many years back till the late 80s to be more precise tongas (horse driven carts) were used by the Doonites for commuting within the city. They would ramble not only on the peripheral roads but also on the main roads including Rajpur Road, which was then only two lane and was the posh area of the city, without any traffic jams.
Tongas have become obsolete in the city having been replaced by hundreds if not over a thousand auto rickshaws and vikram tempos. Rajpur Road has now become four lane and the pavements that were once used by pedestrians on a casual stroll or even shoppers have given way to the broadening of the road. And commuting on this road has now become a problem for vehicle owners.
Traffic jams are the order of the day. Not only on the main Rajpur Road but on almost all the roads of the city as vehicle owners have to spend hours in their vehicles for the traffic to move. Policemen right from the constables on duty to the district police chief can do precious little but look the other way as bumper to bumper car snarls make it almost impossible for traffic to move.
In hectic frenzy cars are diverted from one road to another in the hope that perhaps the diversion mat help, but at most of the times it does not and only creates more cfhaos of the roads to which the vehicle\s are diverted. The situation is a nightmare for drivers when the schools close for the day and thousands of parents or wards come to collect the children. Besides a number of the school going children are now commuting to schools on their two wheelers and only add to the problem.
The problem became a nuisance after Uttarakhand was carved out from Uttar Pradesh in 2000 and Dehra Dun made the capital of the infant state. A number of officers were opened and the existing ones were expanded to cater to the population of the new state. A number of fly by night operators and contractors and other businessmen thronged the new capital to rake in the moolah.
And as the money flow increased malls, business complexes, cinema plexes and others opened adding to burden of not only Rajpur Road but other roads too adding to the chaos. To add to the problem Doon was transformed into a major education hub with the opening of a large number of professional colleges, universities and institutes, bringing in thousands of students and a large number of two and four wheelers.
On a rough estimate it is presumed that over 60,000 new vehicles are registered in the RTO every month and capital of this small hill state has the maximum density of vehicles vis-à-vis the population in the country. All of them vie for some space on the roads to move and one can but imagine the manner in which the traffic position has deteriorated with the lakhs of vehicles on the roads.
It is a sad state of affairs that while successful government in the state since it came into existence swore by development, none ever thought of broadening the existing roads or creating new ones to take on the traffic. New industries and offices were opened in the name of developments, institutions set up in a hurry, complexes and malls were allowed to open without provision for parking space, which further added to the problem on the roads.
Even as senior policemen sit down in a huddle every alternate day trying to figure out how best they can ease the problem on the roads, it is not a light task, taking into consideration the fact that there are a large number of vehicles parked on the roads, as there is hardly any provision of parking lots. Added to this the couple of parking lots that are there, are not patronized by the people who find it easier to park on the roads and go the malls or shopping complexes.
Not being nostalgic, but the beautiful valley which was once known as a city of grey hair and green hedges has become a nightmare of pollution, high rise buildings and stinking filth and garbage on the roads. It is not the men in khakhi alone, but every citizen who will have to rise to the occasion, if they want the city to move and be a shade of its glorious past.