Public transport and its management in Gangtok is a challenge and it is indeed a nightmare for both (traffic) police and the public. While the traffic personnel may be having a tough time managing the road menace, the pedestrians on the other hand also face risk in many areas of the capital due to narrow roads due to an absolute lack of town planning.
A hill capital like Gangtok requires long and short term plannings to put the quality of life in the city at ease. However, successive governments in Sikkim have not given any serious thought on this subject. Gangtok has grown into a concrete jungle with buildings jostling for space- with the road or among themselves, many say that the small town of yesteryears is posed be a prime urban centre of the Himalayas in coming years with accelerated growth in population, migration, tourism and an all-round economic boom.
In view of the long traffic jams in Gangtok a meeting-cum-presentation on Techno-Economic Feasibility Study of Cable Car System as public transport in Gangtok was held at New Secretariat, Tashiling on, east Sikkim on Wednesday evening under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary, SC Gupta. This comes as a major relief in view of the failed attempts in the past.
Previous Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) government had toyed with the idea of a monorail to ease traffic but the project did not take off. Similarly, the current Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) government had also tried to control traffic through various measures, including a one-way traffic system in many areas of the capital. All these failed attempts have made the government to look out for alternative options.
While the opening of alternate routes in and around the capital would help, there is an urgent need to raise awareness on the use of public transport. This should be further scaled up with the state government and Gangtok Municipal Corporation (GMC) coming up with a comprehensive report on infrastructural advancement of Gangtok with focus on public transportation and quality of life in this Himalayan city.
Many urban centres across the world have made comprehensive town planning like many cities in Switzerland. A capital city like Bolivia’s La Paz is also an example when it comes to a good public transportation system. Infrastructural advancement, sustainability and quality of life are some of the basic milestones our policymakers have to ponder upon. With proper research, Gangtok can adopt cost-effective sustainable mechanisms and technologies from Switzerland, Scandinavian countries, Japan and other global cities.
Gangtok is still at a nascent stage of growth but is poised for fast accelerated growth in coming years, the government and all stakeholders should now come up with a comprehensive mechanism to plan for the state capital before it is too late.