This article is written by Srishti Sinha, a student of the Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad. This article deals with the traffic management rules in India concerning the Supreme Court’s view on the case of VK Mittal v Union of India.
In terms of traffic management, our efforts are mostly focused on guaranteeing the safety of automobile drivers, while pedestrians, residents, and cyclists, who are far more vulnerable to road accidents and sufferings, are mostly ignored. Traffic congestion, pollution, longer travel times, and higher road accidents have all come from the rapid rise of motor traffic in emerging countries. Indian metropolitan cities have witnessed tremendous urbanization, unparalleled increase in industry, commerce, and employment in recent decades, resulting in the addition of millions of automobiles. The Indian metros of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad now have over 25 million automobiles. However, there has been no corresponding increase in road infrastructure. As a result, there are too many automobiles on the road, consuming a limited amount of space but generating an excessive amount of pollution.
Why traffic management rules are necessary?
The organization, arrangement, steering, and control of stationary and moving traffic within a construction zone, including automobiles, bikes, and pedestrians, is known as traffic management. Proper traffic management aims to ensure the safe, orderly, and efficient flow of people and commodities while preserving the local environment’s quality.
The traffic management rules are necessary because they can help in the following:
- Before entering a construction zone, a solid traffic management strategy would effectively notify automobiles and pedestrians. Locals who travel through the region daily are not accustomed to having their route disturbed, therefore informing both local and non-local cars and pedestrians is critical to ensure that everyone pays more attention to their surroundings.
- Traffic management strategies are expected to have a key influence in decreasing not just noise emissions but also noise exposure levels at specific sites where sensitive receivers exist, such as residential areas, especially in cities.
- The most significant management rule is reduction in traffic volumes (especially heavy vehicle volume reductions) and traffic speed reductions.
- A good traffic control strategy will assist drivers in avoiding getting delayed in traffic for hours at a time. While all road construction projects affect regular traffic flow to some extent, the strategy will assist in keeping things running smoothly and avoid significant delays.
- When motorists obey traffic signals or traffic management signals appropriately, they can help to organize traffic flow. These devices provide maximum road control, particularly at diverse road junctions. These devices provide messages to the driver, such as when to stop/go, road closures, or speed changes.
There can be other reasons too but these are some of the major reasons why we need traffic management rules and strategies.
Role of National Green Tribunal (NGT) in providing a safe environment
The fast rise of economic activity in the post-industrial age resulted in a widespread disregard for environmental issues. With enormous changes in climatic conditions and resource depletion, the globe is now facing the task of safeguarding the environment to survive.
The establishment of a National Green Tribunal is a step towards safeguarding our environmental concerns and supporting long-term growth. The NGT also addresses the cases related to pollution caused by automobiles, illegal parking issues, solid waste management, regulating traffic so that it does not create noise pollution, and the use of diesel generators.
Origin of National Green Tribunal
In June 1992, during the Rio de Janeiro summit of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, India pledged to provide judicial and administrative remedies for the victims of the pollutants and other environmental damage. This prepared the way for the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, which was enacted to establish a special tribunal to hear matters involving environmental concerns promptly. The legislative Act of the Parliament defines the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 as An Act to establish a National Green Tribunal for the effective and expeditious resolution of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources, including the enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment and providing relief and compensation for damages to persons and property, as well as matters related to or incidental thereto. It also states that the tribunal’s specific environmental jurisdiction will expedite environmental justice while also reducing the burden of litigation in the higher courts. The tribunal will not be constrained by the method outlined in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but will instead be governed by natural justice principles. Further, the tribunal is inspired by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees inhabitants of India the right to a healthy environment.
Scope and objective of National Green Tribunal
The National Green Tribunal was established in response to the necessity to properly handle and redirect a rising number of outstanding cases away from the other judicial institutions. As part of Article 21 of the Constitution, this tribunal was also established to protect citizens’ basic right to a safe environment.
The National Green Tribunal is a specialist organization with the appropriate ability to address multidisciplinary environmental disputes. The following are the tribunal’s primary goals:
- To resolve matters involving environmental protection in a timely and effective manner.
- To make it easier to enforce any environmental legal rights.
- To give relief and recompense for losses to individuals and property, as well as things related to or incidental to such damages.
- To make environmental justice more accessible to the general public.
Case of V K Mittal v. Union of India
In the recent case of V K Mittal v. Union of India (2021), to cope with the Ghaziabad Kaushambi traffic issue, the government formed a nine-member committee and asked them to prepare a comprehensive traffic management strategy. In this case, the petitioner, VK Mittal, the President of the Kaushambi Apartments Resident Welfare Association and Ashapushp Vihar Awas Vikas Samiti Ltd approached the Supreme Court, requesting that the authorities be directed to address several issues, including haphazard traffic management, pollution, and unrestricted dumping of municipal solid waste. The petition raised several problems, ranging from poor traffic management to pollution and unregulated municipal solid waste disposal. As a result, inhabitants in the region have been reported to be suffering from acute respiratory problems. Contaminated groundwater is also a source of worry. In essence, the criticisms raised centre on inadequate planning and implementation of development plans and regulatory obligations. The petition was submitted to avoid an unmanageably huge canvass being opened before the court all at once, and it was agreed to take up the subject of traffic management first. The petitioner also stated that due to these issues, the fundamental rights of citizens are violated.
The learned counsel, on behalf of the petitioner, submits that the residents are suffering this issue because of the following:
- Haphazard parking of three-wheelers and other vehicles on public roads, including service roads;
- The absence of adequate spaces for the parking of public service vehicles;
- The pollution which is generated by buses plied by the Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation;
- Use of pressure horns by vehicles; and
- The total absence of implementation law enforcement machinery causes serious hardship to pedestrians and residents of the area.
The Court also noted that the National Green Tribunal was convened under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 to address pollution caused by automotive emissions, unlawful parking, encroachment on roads and sidewalks, and the use of diesel generators but the situation has not been improved yet. To deal with the problem, the Court directed that a thorough traffic control strategy must be developed. In addition to the NGT’s directives, this will be implemented. The Court further stated that the problem is not limited to Ghaziabad and Kaushambi, but rather affects the whole NCR. The Court emphasized from the start that a thorough traffic management strategy must be developed and delivered to the court. A nine-member group was constituted for this aim.
In the circumstances, the court also ordered the nine-member committee to present a comprehensive traffic management plan within three weeks.
Suggestions to the nine-member committee with regard to the framing of the traffic management rules
Following are the suggestions to the committee which can help in framing traffic management rules and can reduce traffic-related issues:
Prioritize public transport
It is well known that public transportation takes up less road space and emits less pollution per passenger kilometre than private automobiles. As a result, public transportation is a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation. As a result, state governments should encourage improvements in public transportation as well as policies that make it more appealing to use than in the past.
In all metropolitan locations, the land is precious. Large areas of similar land are used for parking. This information should be taken into account while developing the guidelines for parking spot distribution. The imposition of a high parking fee that accurately reflects the value of the property occupied should be utilized to encourage people to use public transportation. Another good step would be to provide bicycle users with park and ride facilities with easy interchange. Simultaneously, a graduated scale of parking fees should be implemented to recoup the economic cost of the land utilized for such parking. Also, for urban communities, police and municipal agencies should develop a comprehensive parking strategy that includes short- and long-term plans for achieving ideal parking standards.
Technologies for pollution control
With so many advances in technologies, the issue of pollution can be solved. Various innovative machines are introduced in today’s time which should be used for reducing pollution levels.
Encourage non-motorized vehicles
Cycles are categorized as the best non-motorized vehicles because they are environmentally friendly and are affordable. Cycles do not produce noise pollution and also there is no use of excessive horns in cycles.
Intelligent transport systems
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is a catch-all term encompassing a variety of technology-based methods to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of transportation networks. To provide integrated travel information and traffic management systems from one or more businesses, the systems frequently incorporate communication, processing, and data storage components. The systems gather data on the present condition of the transportation network, process it, and then either run the network directly or let users determine how to best use it.
Many roads have traffic volumes that exceed the road’s capacity. As a result, there will be delays in travel time, traffic, and accidents. This may be eliminated by enacting regulatory measures and employing traffic control strategies to make the best use of the roadways possible. These strategies can include restrictions in speed, traffic signals, additional lanes, exclusive bus lanes, etc.
Traffic laws and regulations must be presented to road users through various media such as the press, posters, brochures, presentations in theatres, banners, and so on. If at all feasible, road users should be informed about traffic rules and regulations by holding awareness camps where road user safety may be taught. Habitual and repeat offenders should be required to attend training sessions at the Traffic Police’s traffic training institutions.
The above-mentioned are some of the beneficial suggestions which will surely help in reducing pollution (especially air and noise pollution) and proper management of vehicles during parking.
Rules are necessary for every aspect of our life and hence for traffic management as well, otherwise, it will be very difficult to walk on roads. The case of V K Mittal v Union of India is one of the important cases which grabs the attention of the government and judiciary towards the problems faced by the citizens due to lack of proper traffic management strategies. This case is related to problems due to traffic on roads and also highlights the impact of traffic on the nearby residents.
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