'Lift non-motorised vehicle ban from Kolkata streets'

Kolkata, Sep 11 : The National Alliance of People's Movement (NAPM) has asked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to revoke the Kolkata Police's enforcement of non-motorised vehicle ban on 174 streets.

NAPM is an umbrella body of civil society organisations, movements and individuals.

In a letter signed among others like Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar and other NAPM members, the body said the order violated the National Urban Transport Policy of 2006 and was also an "assault on livelihoods of working class people".

"This ban will force many people out of work," said the letter sent Tuesday by NAPM units in 14 states.

The Kolkata Traffic Police through a May 29 gazette notification banned cycles, hand carts, pull carts, tri-cycles and other forms of non-motorised vehicles from 174 major and minor streets in Kolkata.

"The order is not only in violation of the National Urban Transport Policy of 2006 that encourages non-motorised forms of transport but also an assault on livelihoods of working class people.

"Millions of poor and working class people in Kolkata are dependent on these forms of transport for earning an honest living and also commuting within the city," it said.

While conceding that the notifications were passed on the orders of the Calcutta High Court, the letter urged the state government to deal with the issue legally, "rather than taking this anti-poor and anti-working class step".

"We urge you to revoke this ban at the earliest," said NAPM.

It also demanded adequate authorities on the lines of other metro cities be set up to find a holistic solution to Kolkata's traffic congestion problems.

NAPM said the focus should be on providing safety to pedestrians and non-motorised transport through building of cycle tracks, public cycle scheme and integrating that with other forms of public transport.

The letter quoted figures to say Kolkata denizens make the second largest number of trips on cycles among all cities, and the city has the lowest number of private cars and least amount of road space among all metros.

--IANS (Posted on 11-09-2013)

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