Shimla deserves to host the President, despite the traffic mess


By: Kamayani Vashisht

The government’s use of newsprint to convey to the public that the President’s visit to the state will not cause more than half-an-hour’s inconvenience to the general public has proved unduly defensive. The President arrived in Shimla on Wednesday almost unnoticed by the public at large, and hence the government was saved from embarrassment, if that was its concern.

The administration’s over-reaction to the VVIP’s cavalcade causing inconvenience to the public was not totally unfounded, considering that the official machinery somewhere realizes its inability to tackle the traffic problem in the city. But claiming that it would be a 30 minute affair appeared a sign of guilt consciousness. Firstly, it is not really possible to limit the span of the restriction on movement to a total of 30 minutes, given that the President has a packed schedule, with movement inevitably involved everyday.

Secondly, in a town like Simla, that witnesses traffic jams to the tune of two to three hours on a daily basis, people should be more than understanding if the President’s visit does cause them 35-40 or even 45 minutes of inconvenience instead of the calculated 30 minutes. If we can allow the rowdy and aggressive influx of tourist-carrying traffic to hinder our lives for six months a year, the President of our country surely deserves three days of accommodation. Her security, rather than our petty inconvenience is of paramount priority. And where are Simlaites rushing to anyway? The Mall? That can wait till next Saturday. And if not, Simla does have the provision of parallel running roads.

Public response more often than not is a reaction arising out of some suppressed anarchic instincts that must otherwise be kept in the wraps. If only each one of us were to have the opportunity to be able to disrupt traffic officially, we’d feel honoured! So the crib is more out of disdain for what can’t be. I wonder if one has ever noticed that if you are the reason for a traffic pile-up, you wonder what the whole fuss is about, but if it is somebody else, you’ll honk your horn till it shakes Shiva in his meditation.

So, this has nothing to do with the President. It has everything to do with us. Let’s learn to handle it.
And in the meanwhile, you are more than welcome dear President.

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  1. The best line is "And where are Simlaites rushing to anyway? The Mall? ". On a serious note, Kamayani has definitely raised some pertinent issues subtly. Uncontrollable population and concrete structures have eaten up charm and peace of Shimla. Card road seems to have disappeared somewhere. Local administration is complacent. Instead of dealing with the situation, they are trying to manage. Transitory influx of tourists adds to the inconvenience. If not main card road, rest of the connecting roads are heavily populated with parked cars and other vehicles. As widening of the main card road is very difficult, heavy taxes should be levied on vehicles parked on the roads to curb ownership of vehicles (mostly a status symbol than a need). Better local transport facility should be offered so that luxury of personal vehicles is controlled. Decentralization of Govt offices to suburbs is another way of controlling the local chaos. Tourist vehicles should not be allowed to enter main Shimla and a big parking space with bus shuttle service should be provided to avoid congestion.

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