‘Is there policy to restrict number of vehicles?’

Deeply concerned over the problem of increasing traffic congestion in the city, Justice Hemant Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court asked the UT Administration to explain whether "there is any transport policy in respect of restriction of vehicles, which can be put to use vis-a-vis civic facilities, capacity of roads and parking places available".

Senior standing counsel for UT Administration, Advocate Sanjay Kaushal, has sought time to submit the exact number of new cars that are added to city roads every month. Also, on a query put by the court, Kaushal sought time "to examine how public transport can be made more affordable and convenient, to enable citizens to switch over from private to public transport".

The development took place during the resumed hearing of a contempt petition filed by Advocate Ranjan Lakhanpal against the UT Administration and Home Secretary Ram Niwas, for not taking steps to complete the multi-level parking project on the High Court premises.

Niwas and Chief Engineer Surinder Pal filed their respective replies in response to the contempt petition on Tuesday. Meanwhile, accepting the request of advocate Gurinder Singh Attariwala, president of the High Court Bar Association, Justice Hemant Gupta, has impleaded the association as a party to the case. Also, the secretary, Ministry of Surface Transport, New Delhi, has been made a party to the petition to ensure completion of the project. Representing the Bar Association, Attariwala vehemently contended that the entire Bar was suffering immensely due to non-completion of the multi-level parking project.

In his reply, the chief engineer submitted that "due to administrative reasons on account of receipt of architectural/construction drawings, carrying out of structural design in different phases and to ensure early execution of the project on ground, it was decided to execute the work in two phases".

To start with the execution work of the first phase, initially a rough cost estimate of Rs 735 lakh for construction of a multi-level parking was prepared by the Engineering department of the Chandigarh Administration.

During the course of the project, certain additional work was executed as per requirement at the site and accordingly, a revised rough cost estimate was prepared by the Engineering department for an amount of Rs 976.5 lakh and submitted to the Registrar General of the High Court.

Representing the Administration, Kaushal contended that the government is making all efforts to ensure the completion of the multi-level parking lot and the first phase has been completed. However, he submitted that due to exceptional circumstances, the second phase is likely to be completed by March 31, 2011.

With regard to query put by the High Court pertaining to the deployment of police personnel for manning the traffic, the Home Secretary submitted that the Chandigarh Police has deployed 12 additional home guards to manage traffic on the High Court premises and at present, 24 officials have been deployed for the purpose, including one sub-inspector, four constables, five woman constables and 14 home guard volunteers.

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