Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More hands go up for widening here

More hands go up for widening here

Tired of perpetual congestion on Gandhinagar I Main Road, residents are desperately seeking a lasting solution. Many think wider roads will give more room for vehicles to move smoothly. In 1975, following BBMP's order, they had left 10 feet space in front of their houses for widening

Shilpa CB



The cries of vehicles trapped on the roads of Gandhinagar can be heard kilometres away. Despite that, other vehicles venture here even on manic weekend evenings, especially during the festival season. What lures them is Chickpet's cheap merchandise.
It does not help that the city's major entry and exit points – City Railway Station, Majestic, and KSRTC bus depot – are located close by. Will expanding these lanes facilitate smooth traffic flow? Locals, who are tired of the perpetual congestion, believe so.
Gandhinagar Ist Main Road has been waiting to be widened for decades now. "We were asked to leave 10ft in front of our building when we had approached Palike's for permission to build homes. All our neighbours complied too. That was in 1975. Nothing has been done so far," says TC Mahesh, a retired printer.
It is long pending, he says, since the stretch from Sheshadri Road to Kanakadasa Circle is a big double road. They will be compensated well if the plan is executed. "They (BBMP) brought it till there and stopped. We don't know why. We hope that the space we have left for them is properly utilised," he says.
That space, a footpath, is used for illegal parking and also by motorists, especially when the road is full. That can be converted to a road without disturbing the trees, says businessman Suresh T.
One side of the road can be widened and the residents can be compensated with land from the conservancy which has been closed or the grounds at the back where cricket matches used to be held. The conservancy on the side on which Suresh lives has been converted to a parking lot. So it cannot be given as compensation. Hence, that side should be spared, he says.
Mahesh still lives in Gandhinagar behind the commercial building he rents out. Most residents have left for quieter residential areas. Calling Gandhinagar a home is not easy for Mahesh. He has to rely on autos often as it is almost impossible to take his car out at times.
His neighbour Suresh, who has lived here for 60 years, is scouting for a house in one of the old areas of the city. "It's too noisy here," he says. He does not believe that widening will tackle road chaos unless the persistent issues are addressed.
"Travel agencies crowd the footpaths with luggage and packages. Most passengers board the out-of-town bound buses from here. They stand around on the footpaths and roads. There are no facilities for organised parking," says Hamsa J, an advocate and resident of the area.
"Y Ramachandra Road is always heaving under the weight of parked vehicles. Traffic tends to slow down as the duration of the green light for Ist Main Road is shorter than it is for the perpendicular KG Road," he adds.
Residents like Hamsa are still trying to cope with living in an area that has long shed the comforts it once offered. Hamsa says lack of public transport into the area forces people to take autos or private vehicles. They live close to Majestic, yet not close enough to bus stops.
Living and working in these conditions, people are desperate for a solution. But a few are convinced that road widening will not take the city anywhere. They feel it will trap commuters between constricting junctions.
"Nothing will come out of it. Traffic problems will stay even if the road is made 1,000 ft wide," says electrical contractor N Mahalingaiah. According to him, the panacea for all ills is flyovers.
"What the flyovers on Mysore Road and Hosur Road did for the stretches under them, similar facilities from Race Course Road to Market and from Corporation to Majestic will do for all roads in the vicinity," he says.
"A few trees may go in the process but more of these can always be grown. The nemesis of our roads today is the inefficient water supply system that necessitates scarring freshly-laid roads frequently. That has to be reined in too while we go out improving our streets," he says.
Not all are on the same page, though. A major surgery of all obsolete roads has been long pending, a few argue.
"Widening will benefit a few people at least. The people with properties abutting the road may have to sacrifice for the good of those living behind. The same goes for Avenue Road. Tenants who pay petty cash as rent are thwarting efforts to improve infrastructure. Why can't they make way and allow beautiful complexes to come up," says Mahesh.
Advocate Kantharaj H agrees. "If 1,000 people have to benefit, a 100 will be put through some pain. That is a fact of life. However, the government has to make sure that the injustice to those who lose out is minimised," says the senior professional whose office might have to be sacrificed if widening were to become reality. But it has to be done, he asserts, as a permanent solution is imperative now.
"There was stiff opposition when the Ring Road was proposed. But now people realise its utility. Similarly, other projects, which are being implemented keeping the long-term benefits in mind, too will win favour," he says.

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