Friday, August 27, 2010

It is a difficult choice for planners

It is a difficult choice for planners

Being an important link road, widening Chandni Chowk Road will certainly help commuters. But it will also uproot the lives of common people who have homes and shops located along the stretch. Where will they go if their property is acquired for road widening? BBMP will have to take a tough decision

Shilpa CB



Bangalore has its own Chandni Chowk, and it is in dire need of emergency care. Chandni Chowk Road or CC Road deserves a better deal, residents say. But they are not sure if widening is the solution. Adding width to the stretch will benefit only those passing through this important link road, they say. Those with properties on both sides of the road will be left with little and they will have to continue living in poor conditions. "Our life will be shattered," bemoans a small trader.
The road is congested, true. It should be made a double road, says Siddique Hussain, a resident. He argues that it will benefit those living in the many tiny streets going inside. "The houses and shops will be easily accessible," he says.
But, while the residents benefit, those with properties on the roadside will be hit hard. Businessmen like Aftab Misri who owns a 98-year-old book shop will have to give up their land.
"We don't want the widening to happen if it means that people will be left without a means to earn their livelihood," says K Mohammed Sardar, president of Stephen's Square Merchant Association that has about 1,200 members.
The association is not clear on what the alternatives are; neither does it dismiss the proposed widening. Any measure will affect the market that dates back to the British period.
"Wheels of horse carts are made and repaired here. Now, one can find all kinds of old parts of two-wheelers and four-wheelers here. Nowhere in the city do you find these items all in one place. The market is also known for tarpaulin," says Khajanawaz Mohammed who has a stake in the thriving scrap business here.
"Clear the scrap market and everything will be fine. No need to widen the stretch," says Mohammed Younus who has been living here since 1947.
But his neighbour Munir Ahmed is open to the idea of their beloved CC Road being widened. Of course, the tenant has nothing to lose. He will pay lower rent for a small space, he says.
Two mosques also stand by the roadside. Hussain assures that those who own the land will not object to widening as it is long overdue.
Those living around the market and those from Frazer Town, Coles Road using this road to get to Vidhana Soudha, High Court and GPO blame the market for the congestion during peak hours.
"Bureaucrats, councillors, advocates, and those working in Vidhana Soudha and Visveswarayya Tower pass this way. They have been demanding that the road be widened," says Hussain.
Move that market and things should be fine, says Premila P, a resident. Families like hers have lived here for generations and have also renovated their houses at a huge cost. Moving from here is out of the question, they say.
"We've managed to build a house after years of toil and deprivation. Now, the government wants to evict us for the benefit of those who have three or four cars parked in their bungalows. Is this fair? We don't even own a cycle. All we have is this house. We will not leave," she says.
Ragini C is angry that the area has been neglected, the living conditions are bad, there is none to listen to their grievances.
"We get by with rent that we earn from four shops. There are about four families living in this building which is about 10 years old. We've just managed to pay off the loan we took to build it. Now they want to take it away," she says.
"The ancestral property affords us shelter inside the city, we can't let it go," she adds.
Residents repeatedly complain that the drains, footpaths, garbage problem need fixing.

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