The Punjab and Haryana High Court’s direction to the Chandigarh Administration to have a relook at the Sector 29 flyover project and its stay on the felling of 700 ‘fully mature’ trees for the purpose are welcome, especially at a time when big cities are reeling under rising pollution levels. The poor air quality index (AQI) of Chandigarh is a matter of grave concern. Though the flyover is aimed at easing traffic congestion at the Sector 29 chowk, one of the busiest junctions in the city with an estimated 1.43 lakh vehicles crossing the rotary daily, before axing the green cover, the Administration needs to explore other alternatives to streamline traffic. Cutting of trees will cause irreparable harm to the environment and rob the city of its charm. Besides, the plan to replant these trees may not yield the desired results as such drives have failed in the past. The tricity authorities need to put their heads together and seek suggestions from the public to find ways to deal with the growing traffic menace in Chandigarh. One option is to explore the possibility of constructing a road from the Industrial Area to Zirakpur to ease traffic on the main highway.
The City Beautiful is known for its design country-wide. Any tampering with its structure in the name of development should be the last resort. The court has also observed that the flyover project is being implemented in violation of Master Plan-2031. A flyover may not necessarily be the answer to traffic congestion. Some experts feel that it just shifts traffic snarls from one place to another. The Kharar flyover project is a case in point. It has missed several deadlines and is a major source of traffic bottlenecks.
Flyovers constructed decades ago in several parts of the world are being razed over environmental concerns. Dhaka and Seoul are among global cities where flyovers have been dismantled as these failed to serve the desired purpose and posed a threat to the environment. While figuring out solutions to the growing traffic volumes, the aim should be to find ways in which environment protection and development go hand in hand.