The Meghalaya High Court has asked the Meghalaya state government to come up with a blueprint indicating the ad hoc as well as the long term measures for easing of the traffic congestion in Shillong.
Hearing a PIL on the matter on Monday, the two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W Diengdoh said at the suggestion of the Court, Advocate-General has also agreed to seek the advice of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Shillong, if possible, to help prepare a blueprint for the ultimate easing of the traffic congestion and smoother vehicular movement in Shillong.
“It would be best if a map of Shillong were to be prepared and the immediate ad hoc measures to improve the present situation indicated, in terms of repairs or construction of roads, and the long-term measures separately indicated so that the present problem can be eased to some extent over the next few months and years and ultimately addressed upon the completion of the entire project five or six years down the line,” it said.
“While it is imperative that immediate steps be taken to ease the traffic in Shillong proper, the State has constraints in terms of resources. However, a blueprint must be ready and the same implemented over a reasonable period of time upon making both a financial estimate thereof together with a cost-benefit analysis,” the bench added.
Asserting that several other measures need to be adopted, it said one of the aspects earlier indicated by Advocate-General on behalf of the State was the procurement of electric buses.
The State had also represented earlier that the majority of parents of school-going children had also agreed that if a secured and dedicated public transport system was put in place for school students, individual cars carrying one student at a time may not congest the area around the schools.
The other indication given by the State was to augment the public transport system and to revisit the flow of traffic in certain congested areas.
The bench however said several measures have to be taken in tandem, not the least of them being the removal of vendors from pavements at key and congested places where the pedestrians’ footfall on the carriageways impedes the flow of vehicular traffic.
As far as long-term solution is concerned, the bench has emphasized that ropeways and cable-cars have to be looked into upon an expert proposal being prepared for it to be financially assessed and, if feasible, implemented.
External aid agencies have already been approached, according to the State, but there are several other agencies which are available both to conduct feasibility studies and to fund the projects.
It further stated that band-aid solutions may be necessary since at present the traffic comes to a standstill at several places, particularly the vehicles coming in from and going to Guwahati and near the Police Bazar area.
In the context of preparing a long-term plan, the immediate measures that are necessary should not be abandoned, it asserted.
The bench has also asked the Advocate General to look into the suggestions made by several learned lawyers and, to the extent deemed fit, forward the same to the State for its consideration adding that though some reports and affidavits have been filed, the specifics may not have been referred to by the State.
The petitioner Philip Khrawbok Shati informed that a report indicating the exact measures taken over the last six months to help ease the traffic problem and the proposed measures to be taken in the near future should be penned down by the State in a report, in addition to the long-term strategic plan being indicated.
While the appropriate authorities attend to the traffic problems in the heart of present Shillong, they must also be mindful of the New Shillong Township that is coming up and have plans in place well ahead of the township being completely established so that the problem is not diverted from the present Shillong to the New Shillong Township.
Several learned lawyers assisting the Court in the present matter submitted that in respect of the proposed New Shillong Township clearly demarcated areas should be indicated for use as commercial, administrative, educational or residential enclave.
They further submitted that a traffic flow management plan should be in place before the township comes to life.
The State would do well to project the possible flow of traffic in New Shillong once it is established and take measures before the township is established rather than being pushed to take the same several years down the line when the problem would already have arisen.
The next hearing on the matter will be held on September 23.