Monday, July 26, 2010

BBMP, lend your ears to their problems

BBMP, lend your ears to their problems

By giving Malleswaram's commuters a bus bay, half the minor traffic issues can be solved

Shilpa CB Bangalore

After years of inconvenience caused due to the construction of an underpass, residents of Malleswaram had a brief respite. Then more pain was heaped on them by a new mall that drew traffic from all parts of the city. Now they fear that the plan to widen Link Road may rip them apart.
Traffic congestion is not at all a complaint on Link Road. "A jam here is rare like when a bus breaks down during downpour," says a resident.
But there is an ill-placed bus stop that needs to be shifted. "We need a bus bay. When a bus halts at this stop to download passengers, other vehicles following them have to wait behind. This can be solved by building a bus bay," says Avinash S, a student of engineering who has grown up in this neighbourhood.
The existing bus stop can be shifted to a small piece of vacant land that the BBMP never bothered to make use of so far. Architect Madhu VN, who runs a firm in a rented space that abuts the road, agrees. "Instead of breaking many houses, they can make use of the space at this spot. They can make use of the land on either side of the stretch for vehicles to halt. This way, even when buses halt, other vehicles can move ahead smoothly," he says.
"The existing bus stop is the major culprit. It should have been set up between 2nd and 3rd cross. That would have made a big difference," says Suryanarayan Karanth, a resident.
Lalitha Holla, a house owner, is willing to give up some land for a footpath. But she would not let go even an inch for a bigger road. She too agrees that the creation of a bus bay on the vacant government land along the stretch can make travelling safer and smoother for commuters.
A drain passing along the road should be properly covered to give more space for pedestrians. "The road is narrow where the drain passes. The footpaths are too narrow in some places and too wide in other places. Why not correct this," Holla asks.
"Civic workers open one road, close another, dig here and dig there. If they were experts, this won't have happened. The underpass is grossly under-utilised. Couldn't they have made it wider? There is so much space right in the middle that is not being used. Such things strike the layman. Why does it not strike civic engineers and planners," residents wonder. The underpass should either be properly used or destroyed, they say.
Thanks to the mall, the traffic density has trebled with most streets occupied by vehicles of mall visitors in the evenings and during weekends. The tiny streets that turn sharply into the main road are not conducive for such usage.
"Vehicles need more space to turn into the main road as the angle is sharp at some places. Even a small car can obstruct traffic movement while turning at these spots," says Karanth.
The mall's bad design — lack of proper frontage and buffer zone — is to blame for the bottleneck near it, says architect Avinash Shekhar. Instead of rectifying that, plans are being 'hatched' to clear the majestic trees of Sampige Road to create road space, he says.
Other solutions can be tried. "Expedite work on a road that is being planned from Platform Road to 8th Main. "This will divert traffic going to Rajajinagar. If it is made a double road, it will reduce traffic very much," says Karanth.
"The main road on which the underpass was built can be made a straight road to connect to Bellary Road which is just a kilometre away. All they have to do is remove the illegal constructions that are in the way and rehabilitate its occupants. Metro has moved out residential complexes. Why can't BBMP do the same," asks a businessman requesting anonymity.
Now, it is just a small lane that connects Malleswaram with Guttahalli. A wide and straight road will give quick access to Vidhana Soudha and Bellary Road.
He says civic authorities are destroying the business community with this "uncalculated, unscientific, unethical" project. "Instead of just acquiring 5 metres or 10 metres of land, they can acquire twice as much and give the second half to us. We can establish our shops again a few feet behind our present location," he says.
This way, there will be two-way traffic everywhere which can shorten travelling distance, save diesel and time, he adds.
For all this to happen, the Palike needs expertise and skill. Its track record proves that it does not have it to improve people's living conditions here, say residents.
"Let them bring overseas experts to help us out with alternative solutions. There is no shame in that. Why experiment on us with our money," asks Amarnath, an industrialist who has lived on Link Road for 70 years.
His advice to civic authorities is to follow the schedule for Metro work and complete it. Traffic congestion will be reduced automatically, he says.

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