Gangtok, 30 Nov (IPR):
The Urban Development & Housing Department, Government of Sikkim, conducted a consultation and workshop on finding short term and long term solutions to traffic problems in Gangtok at Chintan Bhawan today. Minister for UD&HD, N.K Subba was the chief guest for the day and Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), P.D Rai was the guest of honour.
Deputy Mayor (GMC), Lashey Doma; Secretary, UD&HD, Ganga Pradhan; IG (Law & Order), Gyanendra. K. Verma; ASP (Traffic), Ongmu Bhutia; SP (East), Hemraj Rai; Chairperson, State Pollution Control Board, Dr. Gopal Pradhan, along with officials of various departments, Colonel G. Banerjee and Colonel B.N Chetan from the 17th Mountain Division, representatives from Feedback Infra, National Highway & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), Urban Mass Transit Company (UMTC), Mercedes Benz, the Truck Drivers Association were also present at the workshop.
Chief Town Planner (UD&HD), Devika Sharma welcomed the gathering. MP (Lok Sabha), PD Rai, in the keynote address, applauded the work done so far by the government as well as welcomed feedback for measures to be implemented.
Minister (UD&HD) in his address encouraged more interactions and awareness programmes on traffic decongestion and urbanization. He also informed about the future projects of the government in providing solutions to tackle the traffic menace like widening of various roads at busy junctions and construction of pavements and foot-paths for efficient pedestrian movement, thus reducing car movements. Other projects in the pipeline include dismantling older structures like the BSNL building and converting it into taxi stoppage points.
Nitin Upreti of Feedback Infra gave a presentation on a Comprehensive Mobility Plan, based on a study made on Gangtok terrain and traffic movement. He provided possible solutions of decongestion through cable cars, creation of ring roads that help movement on inner ring road and outer ring road of Gangtok.
He also cited examples of cities all over the world like Suwon in South Korea, Bandung in Java, Indonesia and Medellin in Columbia whose topography resemble Gangtok in many ways and suggested the measures they have taken, like skywalks, eco-mobility festivals etc. to instil a sense of ownership to the public utilizing these public commute services.
Ankush Malhotra of UMTC provided a detailed presentation on Techno-Economic Feasibility of Cable Car as public transport. A study based on travel characteristic of Gangtok while keeping in mind the safety measures, he said that locations have been identified as stations and a model drawn for cable cars to implement as a mainstream public transport. He also cited various examples of cities from all across the globe who use cable cars as their mode of transport and concluded that it would work if integrated in co-ordination with other mode of public transport.
Kailash Pradhan of Architects of Sikkim gave a presentation on Ownership Model. He put forth the unique and peculiar ways of Gangtok town and stated that while this was a problem to find solutions for, it was also an opportunity to prove ourselves as concerned citizens with a sense of belonging. He presented a schematic connection draft made by architects and designers and suggested that a collaboration with a technical and financial team would bring about fruitful results. He stressed on the public taking responsibility and coming on board for infrastructural ventures.
Vijay Kalakala, Deputy General Manager- Mercedes Benz spoke on Safe Roads providing data of road fatalities and reminding the public to focus on feasible safety measures.
The interactive session had points put forward from stakeholders, traffic police administration, government officials as well as the public. UDHD as well as officials from the Motor Vehicle Department took the feedback so as to come up with solutions and measures.
In the post lunch session, the workshop was divided into six groups who each discussed various topics like traffic management, surface improvement solutions, alternative mobility solutions etc.
One member from each group presented their ideas and proposals after the discussion.
In conclusion, the MP (Lok Sabha) summarized the reports put together and stressed on sustainable development goals while also asking the stakeholders and entrepreneurs to work together in moving capital for efficient implementation of these measures. He ended his note reminding all that traffic congestion affects everyone and therefore all must act collectively and responsibly.