Friday, April 16, 2010

Mantri mauls Malleswaram’s peace

Mantri mauls Malleswaram’s peace

It's been a traffic nightmare for residents and commuters ever since the swanky shopping centre came up on a one-way street in the area

Debi Prasad Sarangi and Hemanth Kashyap
Posted On Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 11:46:25 AM
India’s “largest” mall on a narrow one-way road is creating king-sized problems for commuters and residents in Malleswaram.

Commuters travelling towards Malleswaram, Yeshwanthpur and Peenya through Sampige Road say vehicular movement has gone for a toss ever since Mantri Square, a mall spread over a huge built-up area of 1.7 million sq ft, started its operations on that road from March 15. The parking area can hold 2,000 cars and that gives an idea of the kind of traffic the road has to deal with.

A royal mess
Amid the mess are people with vehicles arguing with the police and the mall’s security guards for parking, frayed tempers and wars of words.

The situation on weekends is nightmarish during peak hours. Since the mall is a first for Malleswaram and neighbouring areas, thousands visit on weekends, especially between 4pm and 9pm, leading to huge traffic jams in front of the mall.

Entry, exits on same side
Raghu, who travels to Peenya every evening, says the crux of the problem is this: “The mall has its entry and exit gates on the same side (Sampige Road) and this leads to a hellish experience for commuters. Since every vehicle has to take a left turn to enter the mall, traffic movement is disrupted and this continues till Central Circle. This again creates problems for commuters travelling from Majestic and Seshadripuram. Again, vehicles coming out of the mall lead to the entire traffic movement coming to a standstill till Sampige Theatre Circle.”

And this continues even further till the Slum Clearance Board signal.

Grimmer future
Rajat, a Malleswaram resident, says it takes him more than 30 minutes to travel from the mall to home which is just 1 km beyond Sampige Theatre Circle. “I really feel bad for long-distance, north-bound commuters travelling in buses. It’s bound to get worse after multiplexes start operations in the mall. The developers are responsible for the chaos and should rectify the system,” he said.

Worst sufferers
Residents of Malleswaram are probably the worst sufferers. “There were traffic jams earlier and we would spend almost 15 minutes reaching Malleswaram circle from Sheshadripuram. But it’s worse now. Traffic cops alone will not solve the crisis. We need an alternative solution. Residents should be taken into account while taking such decisions,” said Dr Meenakshi Bharat, a member of Malleswaram Residents’ Welfare Association.

Cops helpless, blame Mantri
It’s not just commuters but traffic cops who are also facing the heat.

“We are trying our best to decongest the area but not very successfully. Most people first drop their families near the mall and then go to park. These vehicles are stopped at the entrance to the mall which further eats into road space,” says a police officer attached to Malleswaram traffic police station.

Praveen Sood (in pic), Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security) told Bangalore Mirror: “No doubt, the traffic problem on that stretch has escalated at least five times after the mall came up. We have to deploy all the staff of Malleswaram traffic police station to control the situation.The mall authority do have an exit plan at the rear towards Malleswaram which should have been used when the mall started operations. We have spoken to the mall authority to find out a solution as soon as possible.”

Wait... Mantri has plans but won’t tell us
Mall developer Mantri, meanwhile, is high on the fact that it’s given Bangalore the country’s “largest” mall.

“We have given India’s largest mall to Bangalore and the mall currently employs over 4,600 people daily, directly and indirectly, broadening the importance of this area to the economy of the city,” a spokesperson said.

But, errr, what about the traffic?

“When the huge crowd visits our mall, we cannot say ‘no’ to them. However, to ease the situation, we have outsourced traffic management to a private company but are not in a position to disclose details. We have no plans to open another exit gate at rear side,” the spokesperson added.


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