Multiplicity of authority, absence of a unified law governing urban transport and resistance to change – these are among the several issues facing the road transport system in the National Capital Region, according to a Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Transport, Tourism and Culture. In the report, which was tabled in the Rajya Sabha, the Committee has noted that the creation of NCR has posed newer challenges for a seamless, accessible, safe, affordable and comfortable transport in the region as a large number of non-destined vehicles, commercial and private, pass through Delhi every day to reach other States.
The Committee, which examined issues related to regulation and management of public transport system in Delhi after the gruesome gang-rape of a paramedic student in a moving bus on December 16 last has noted that there are as many as 27 agencies and authorities involved in operationalising transport in Delhi. “The bus in which the incident happened was able to move freely throughout the city that night without being noticed or stopped at several barriers put up by the Delhi Police. Subsequent investigations revealed that the bus was plying without the mandatory permit to carry passengers and had been challaned several times in the past, and let off each time. It was mainly due to fragmented authority and lack of coordination between various agencies involved in managing, regulating and implementing transport related Acts and Rules in the National Capital,” the report said.
The absence of a unified law for governing urban transport in the country, the Committee has noted, is a challenge and so is the existing arrangement for enforcing rules. “There is an absence of an effective and integrated formal enforcement mechanism having a shared mandate/authority from all the concerned – NCT Government, State Governments, Union Ministries of Urban Development and Home Affairs and various agencies such as the NDMC, municipal corporations, DDA, DMRC, DTC, Delhi Police etc..,” the report added.
Citing an example of no convergence, the report pointed out that while in Delhi the Union Ministry of Urban Development is concerned with planning, traffic management is with the Delhi Police, which is under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Delhi Government’s Transport Department is responsible for issuing licences and registering vehicles under the Motor Vehicle Acts and Rules. From planning to enforcement, each Ministry/Department performs its duties exclusively without formal coordination between them.
The Committee has recommended the setting up of a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) with jurisdiction over National Capital Region at the earliest. “The Committee finds that an interim solution for the problems in public transport system in the National Capital Region is the proper and planned traffic management, stricter licensing system, integration of bus services with metro and effective utilisation of ring railways in the entire region,” the report said.
The Committee has frowned upon the tendency of different agencies to work in isolation instead of teaming up for sustainable solutions. It said it noticed a “perceptible resistance” on the part of various authorities and to affect any change in the existing control over different aspects of public transport system.
“They appeared to be unwilling to forego their authority, even while each authority is working at cross purposes. There is a lack of clear vision and coordination regarding how the transport network should be designed, developed and implemented. Individual agencies such as the NCT Government, Union Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Home Affairs/Delhi Police, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), the Indian Railways appear to be making their plans in isolation. As a result, services of different modes do not complement each other,” the report submitted.
The Committee has also called for reviewing the role and performance of the National Capital Region Planning Board in addressing transportation issues and recommended that a Central Motor Vehicle Acts/Rules may be implemented uniformly for the entire NCR in consultation with the State Governments.