Friday, October 10, 2014

"When your Heart is Open, you build BRIDGES; When your heart is Closed, you build WALLS" – Sh. Anil Shukla, Jt. Commissioner of Police, Delhi

"When your Heart is Open, you build BRIDGES;
When your heart is Closed, you build WALLS"

– Sh. Anil Shukla, Jt. Commissioner of Police, Delhi, commenting at a WG meeting on why the rich/ upper middle class of Delhi go about building boundary walls and gated colonies, to ‘keep out’ the same people whose services they use daily.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Session on "The Future of Urban Mobility" - New Cities Summit 2013

What role does mobility play in the human city? How will we move in the future city? What are the main social economic, environmental, and technological drivers of future mobility? What are some concrete examples of mobility innovation that are likely to change this field?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why is Delhi - the Richest Indian City making NO investments in Great Public Spaces - like other Indian Cities are making?

Great Cities are made by great Public Spaces and providing basic happiness for people of all ages, incomes, gender and social strata.
Most Indian Cities today are creating Great Public Spaces for its People. But Delhi has NO FREE Public Space that Delhi Govt has invested in or created in the last 20 years.... for the Common man!! WHY ??
Delhi has uncountable flyovers - more than any other city in the country. Yet, it continues to invest only in more flyovers/underpasses which benefit only a few and create more pollution and congestion!! WHY ??
No investments are made into designing and implementing great public spaces where people can meet, shop, eat, play and mingle. And all expensive public investments are gated or ticketed!! Why is the city only meant for the rich and powerful - who need to be kept satisfied at the cost of larger public good? WHY ??
Example 01: Kankaria Lake,  at a terminal Station of the Ahmedabad BRT Corridor.... Free Lakefront Public Space for one and all.
Laser show at Kankaria Lake, Ahmedabad
Having chaat Kankaria Lake
Toy train takes us around the Lake which has different attractions at different portions of the Lakefront.
Example 02: Sabarmati Riverfront, Ahmedabad.
Example 02: Sabarmati Riverfront, Ahmedabad.

Example 02: Sabarmati Riverfront, Ahmedabad.
Example 03: Hussain Sagar Lakefront, Hyderabad.
Example 03: Hussain Sagar Lakefront, Hyderabad.

Example 03: Hussain Sagar Lakefront, Hyderabad.
Example 04: Futala Lake, Nagpur.
Example 04: Futala Lake, Nagpur.
Example 04: Futala Lake, Nagpur.
Example 05: Carter Road Promenade, Mumbai.
Example 05: Carter Road Promenade, Mumbai.
Coming to Delhi - Dilli Haat, the only semblance of a Public Space is TICKETED!! And sells food and beverage at unaffordable rates... Rs. 15 is the daily wage of half the population of the city!

Public Space in the middle of Aurobindo marg Cloverleaf (jalebi road) with Jindal Steel sculptures, where you can breathe in all the intesne pollution that surrounds it.
Delhi: crores were spent on the Stadiums and other venues for the Commonwealth games. Lakhs are still being spent on lighting and maintaining them. But Does the Common Man have the privilege to visit and enjoy the place even for limited hours during the evenings or weekends? NO!
Delhiites: Story of hour lives is breathing pollution and surviving from getting killed while crossing a road or a flyover!
While our Tax money continues to serve and satisfy the privileged few.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Can we look at the REAL LONG TERM SOLUTIONS for Decongesting South Delhi ?

From: Romi Roy 

Date: 6 April 2013 11:53
Subject: Long term Decongestion Plan for South Delhi - Can we look at the REAL LONG TERM SOLUTIONS ?
To: Sh. Raj Kumar Chauhan (Hon'ble PWD Minister) <>, Tejendra Khanna (Hon'ble Lt Governer of Delhi)<>
Cc: Hon'ble Chief Minister of Delhi , Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic),  OSD to LG, Dainik Jagran, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Shakti Foundation, Anumita Roychoudhury (Exec. Director CSE), Rajendra Ravi (Social Entrepreneur and Activist), Sunita Narayran (CSE), Principal Secretary PWD, Engineer-in-Chief PWD, Principal Secy UD, OSD (Urban Transport, MOUD), Asst. Professor Sushant School, Anjlee Aggarwal (Samarthyam), Commissioner Planning DDA, Director Environment GNCTD, Chairman of Delhi Urban Arts Commission.

SUBJECT: Ref: Hindu Article Today about Decongestion Plan for South Delhi proposed by PWD and Approved by UTTIPEC.

Dear Respected Sirs - 
Please forgive our humble question to you Sir - but do you think that a few more flyovers and underpasses will be the solution to Decongesting South Delhi ? (attached article from Hindu today)

Sir, please kindly consider our prediction - Outer Ring Road will be MORE JAMMED and MORE DAMAGED by these "solutions" within three years, and people of Vasant Vihar etc will not be able to move/go anywhere. And neither will Delhi-Gurgaon's long-distance commuters! And at that time, with all these damaging scars on the area already implemented on ground, it will be impossible to retrofit the area back into a better place which works for both - locals and thoroughfare commuters.

LONG TERM REAL SOLUTION: Sir, Please kindly see attached Map explaining the long term solutions. 
Sir, if minor retrofits are done at ORR/RTR as previously proposed by RITES, and the NEW alternative routes are constructed from the Airport + Gurgaon to go to South Delhi, East Delhi and Noida, then more than half the traffic load on Outer Ring Road (ORR) would reduce. Sir, please kindly consider building the NEW ZONAL PLAN ROADS as demarcated in this attached Planso that long term problems of the City can be solved/ eased and not just band-aid solutions which we all know will not work beyond 2-3 years.

Sir, East Delhi has three times the Population Density of South Delhi. But they have NO mortal traffic jams and hardly any accidents. And hardly any Rapes! Sir can we understand why ??

It is because East Delhi has a good Road Network density where people have multiple routes to go to the same place. There is also mixed-use. People have abundant other options for travel like cycle-rickshaws, walking and buses, for short local trips to the market, cinema hall, post office, bank, etc.  The only location where deaths and traffic jams have NOW STARTED happening is near Gazipur roundabout, AFTER the grade separators were constructed there!! People are complaining about it, but no one hears them, because only respected Engineers are the sole advisers to decision makers; No planners, designers, sociologists or environmentalists exist in the Decision making forums.

In the attached article, the Hon'ble Minister Sh. R K Chauhan himself says!! - " of three flyovers on Ring Road had failed to solve the problem of persistent traffic jams in the area...."

What more can we say Sir?

With warm regards,
Romi Roy 
on behalf of UTTIPEC Team

Dy. Director (Arch.), Delhi Development Authority
Spl. Invitee, Masterplan Review Committee under LG, Delhi
Member, High Court Special Task Force on Transportation & Vendor Policy under CS, Delhi
Member, Technical Committee on Urban Drainage, GNCTD, Delhi
Spl. Invitee, LAP Monitoring Committee, MCD Delhi
Member, Sub-Committee on Sustainable Habitat, MOUD
Member, Several Committees of the Indian Road Congress

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012-2013: Finally a City is Born!!! Happy Birthday Delhi!! ;)

I was thinking exactly this since yesterday and this article came out today in the Times of India reflecting my exact thoughts - looks like a City of migrants who earlier didn't give a damn... has finally found its SOUL.

NOW truly.... a City is Born!!! :) Happy Birthday Delhi!! ;)

Quoting..."...the protests showed the emerging face of the city’s new woman — one who is confident enough to take part in a protest on her own, would not stop dressing the way she wants to and who refuses to be judged on the basis of her physical attributes. 

True, it took a crime as barbaric and brazen as Nirbhaya’s gang rape to awaken the city’s collective spirit. But the reaction, and the subsequent movement, has been a revelation in many ways and shows the city’s emerging spirit.

"Both the city’s police as well as its politicians have been left grappling for ways to deal with this new form and idiom of protest. Of course, rising in protest alone does not give a city its character. The capital has miles to go before it can be said to have acquired a civic character that makes a city great."

Pictures say it all.....

Monday, October 22, 2012


From: Romi Roy
Date: Mon, Oct 22, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Subject: Need for Formal Media Briefing, Information Dissemination & Public Outreach regarding NMV & Task Force activities/ decisions
To: Hon'ble Chief Secretary of Delhi
Copy to: Chief Minister of Delhi, Special CP (Traffic), OSD to LG Delhi, E-in-C MCD, Special Secy. to CM Delhi, Group Editor Times of India, Reporter Hindustan Times, Director UTTIPEC DDA, Director CSE, several other recipients which included media persons, bureaucrats, department heads and civil society activists.

Dear Hon'ble Chief Secretary Sir,

1.     On Friday I received a call from a media person asking about the decisions of the Special Task Force and what I thought about the issue of NMV lanes being proposed in Delhi.

2.     However Sir, before I could start explaining anything about the deliberations of the Task Force, I realized that the Reporter had already been briefed negatively and incorrectly about all the facts about NMV lanes and NMV usage in Delhi, as well as the deliberations/ decisions of the meeting. Therefore she was completely prejudiced and misinformed, and it almost sounded like I had to "defend" the decisions of the Task Force (made by almost unanimous vote under your Chairmanship, except for the singular dissent from Traffic Police)!!

3.     The Reporter had been convinced by whoever she had spoken to, that NMV lanes are useless and a waste of public money and space. Complete contradictory to the Task Force deliberations!!

4.     The point is Sir, this is not the first time this confusion + misinformation has happened. It has been too many times when Media is wrongly briefed by undisclosed people, without any basis or facts, and public opinion is swayed in the wrong direction. I have documented proof of many meetings where the actual Meeting deliberations & decisions have been completely DIFFERENT from what has been published by Media the next day, misinforming the entire city! 

5.     Sir, in order to prevent this confusion, misinformation and twisted stories going out to the larger public, I would humbly request you Sir if the Special task Force can hold a formal briefing under your Chairmanship after each meeting, to brief the Media about the deliberations/ decisions of the STF. The city needs to learn the real facts, people need to understand that these decisions are made for the long term good of their children and the city. And the only way to do so is by providing complete and true information.

6.     As you know Sir, we all had also deliberated at length about the problems and hiccups confronting us about the implementation of NMV lanes, but there is majority agreement in the STF that we need to implement NMV lanes on all Arterial/ fast moving roads in the city, barring the dissent of the Traffic Police, which was duly recorded. 

7.     It was also discussed at the Task Force that NMV lanes may not be required on smaller roads, because the traffic there is already slow.
-  NMV lanes are more required on the fast moving Arterial Roads because the speed of vehicles there (50-100 km/hr) is dangerous for NMV (15 km/hr)! How can people not understand this common sense fact Sir??

8.     These issues about NMT (cycles/ cycle-rickshaws/ cycle-carts, etc) have been discussed numerous times at STF and UTTIPEC-GBM meetings over the last 3 years, yet the Reporter is being misinformed/ misguided by unknown sources about ALL of the following facts:

a)     Almost all Arterial Roads in the city are more than 36m in width (Ring Roads are 60m, most others are 45 m), so even after 3+3 lanes of traffic, they can accommodate two NMV lanes, two footpaths, two MUZs, and still have more space left!!! Detailed cross-sections are provided in UTTIPEC Street Design Guidelines. See Table below:

each lane
width (m)
no. of lanes
Total width required
Total Right of Way required:
36 m

b)    35% people of this city own cycles (only 19% own cars), but only 6% ride them because of lack of safe infrastructure and comprehensive planning for NMV.  
c)     Cycle and pedestrian deaths in Delhi are highest in the country and most deaths are on Arterial Roads (data and maps for this exist with Traffic Police).
d)    Peak hours for cyclists are different as they travel early morning or late night (when we are all at home), and at that time the arterial roads are MOST unsafe for them due to high speed traffic!
e)     All Arterial Roads of Delhi have 5-15% cycle/NMV traffic moving on them, who therefore need protection from high speed vehicles. 
f)     A large proportion of the informal economy driving the growth of this city depends on NMV goods movement! Without them, the wheels of economy will crash; costs will go up and affect every person!! This was also alluded in the recent High Court judgment on BRT.
g)    To top it all Sir, there are at least 4 policies in place which mandate the need and requirement in the city for NMV lanes on higher speed roads - the National Urban Transport Policy,  Masterplan of Delhi 2021 , UTTIPEC Street Design Polices and Guidelines  and several IRC codes . 
h)     A peon or worker in any office travels anything between 4-14 kms to reach office on his cycle, which is a Free mode of transport for him. If we make cycling unsafe for him, he has to take a bus, which will make him poorer!!  
i)      More than 50% of this city is below poverty line and cannot even afford a Bus ticket!! leave alone Metro, 2-wheeler or auto!!
-  Example: Only 5 out of 60 people in the UTTIPEC office use cars!! The rest 55 people use cycles, train, bus or auto, a few use Metro. Is this Majority not at all important to anybody who reads/ writes English in this city? 
j)      And yes... poor people don't just live in East or West Delhi. There is Govindpuri, Dakshinpuri and Khanpur in South Delhi also, but how many times to we hear them being discussed or written about??

Sir even after three years of working on this issue, we are still at the starting point with no progress on NMT. This is because:
·         The three major stakeholders affecting this issue – the Traffic Police, the Designer/Expert, and the Media (representing 14% motorized traffic) are working at cross purposes. Although promoting NMT is beneficial for ALL, both in the short & long term, we continue to work within our feudal mindset – where we either show Authority or Dissent. Never cooperation and mutual consent.
·         We have the best designers and engineers in the world, but we don’t have the system within Govt. Municipalities to make the two work together. Designers currently have no role in day to day public space planning, supervision, monitoring & troubleshooting, even though they are trained for this. 
- Design just does not mean shallow aesthetics, it means solving spatial planning issues on roads & public spaces through use of creativity. An Engineer is not trained for this, he is trained for geometry, material mix and structure/ execution.
- RESULT: Inspite of spending more money on our roads than other countries, very few roads are usable by vulnerable users or pleasant workable urban spaces.
·         There is no systemized (internationally acceptable) method for public participation and community involvement for spatial planning & design projects in Delhi.

In today’s case Sir, a young mind has been wrongly influenced. And the story she would write would derail the mind of the entire English-speaking noise-making population of the city. The people who’s needs will be negatively affected do not have the time to fight their case, as they are too busy earning a living or staying alive! So if we don’t fight their case Sir, who will?

In the above regard Sir, I would request if:
(i)     Formal media briefings may be held by Your office after the STF meetings; and subsequently,
(ii)    An elaborate campaign for public education & outreach be taken up in partnership with media houses, civil society organizations, expert bodies and government agencies.
That Sir, is my humble submission.

a)     Audit pictures of Ganesh Nagar: 'documenting public apathy' 02

Copied to (for information only):
(i)     Hon'ble LG
(ii)    MoUD (Urban Transport)
(iii)   Chairperson, EPCA

p.s. Sir please find below, the email which I had send to the Hon'ble LG and your office two years back. It is so sad that the same situation is still continuing, with zero cooperation, and the facts that were hidden at that time are still hidden!

With warm regards,
Romi Roy
Senior Urban Designer, UTTIPEC DDA Delhi
Spl. Invitee, Masterplan Review Committee under LG, Delhi
Member, High Court Special Task Force on Transportation under CS, Delhi
Member, Technical Committee on Urban Drainage, GNCTD, Delhi
Spl. Invitee, LAP Monitoring Committee, MCD Delhi
Member, Sub-Committee on Sustainable Habitat, MoUD

"Sustainable Urban Design can be the foundation for Social Justice" - Enrique PeƱalosa