Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mall boom dooms traffic

Mall boom dooms traffic

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Bengaluru can boast of providing its people a fun shopping experience and entertainment in style in its malls and multiplexes.

The city hub and a few other areas in its vicinity are booming with shops and theatres located in high rise buildings. Invariably people make a beeline for them in search of the mall experience. But these popular high rises and commercial malls in the heart of the city and central business district (CBD) are proving a challenge for the traffic police as the volume of vehicles on the roads leading to them is very high. The question is : Should so many malls and multi plexes be allowed to come up in the heart of the city?

The authorities don’t seem to see anything amiss with their concentration in certain central areas like the MG Road and busy localities surrounding it as the BBMP, PWD, and the traffic police, including the urban administration have not only issued the existing mulitplexes and malls their licences but are also in the process of permitting more such complexes in the core areas of the city.

Additional commissioner of police (traffic and security) Praveen Sood doesn’t see anything wrong in malls being permitted in central areas of the city. Malls and entertainment hubs cannot be anywhere but in the heart of the city, he feels.

“All developed countries have commercial malls and entertainment hubs in the central business district.

There is no point in having entertainment spots and commercial hubs in the outskirts,” he says, however, adding that adequate parking, entry and exit points should be provided by all the malls located here to ease traffic conditions.

“We cannot wish away malls and multiplexes. But we need to have adequate parking and traffic management. Once the traffic management is in place, handling traffic will not be an issue at all. The state government has suggested a parking policy to ensure a smooth flow of vehicles,” Mr Sood said.

BBMP joint director (town planning) S. Togagi says the number of floors in a complex depends on the FAR permitted in a particular area and is based on the zoning regulation and width of the road. He explains that high rise buildings can be permitted on a road only if it is over 60 ft wide.

Deputy commissioner (urban) G.N. Nayak says that although urban administration is the sanctioning authority for multiplex licenses, the BBMP and the traffic police too play a vital role in giving clearance for a multi-storeyed building.

He said a meeting would be held with the traffic police and BBMP to keep a tab on the mushrooming of such complexes to ensure that they did not aggravate traffic conditions in the city. “After consulting the BBMP and the traffic police the urban administration will chalk out certain measures to prevent the mushrooming of such multiplexes and commercial complexes,” he assured, adding that even now the traffic ‘ police had the ultimate say when granting permission.

“We insist upon No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from BBMP, BDA, traffic police, PWD and fire departments for the multiplexes,”he said.

Controlling traffic flow around The Forum mall on Hosur Road and Garuda Mall on Magarth Road has become a challenge for traffic cops, especially during the peak hours.

The Forum mall was built on Hosur Road about five years ago and the city has grown to make it a part and parcel of it. Traffic experts feel that policemen need to be stationed at the junction of the Forum mall to direct traffic and prevent jams as wells as accidents due to reckless driving.

The story is similar around Garuda mall where too the traffic is heavy on the roads leading to it and around it.

The situation cries for better traffic management, say the experts


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