Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pedestrians a dying breed in Bangalore

Pedestrians a dying breed in Bangalore

Express News Service
First Published : 27 Dec 2008 07:42:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 27 Dec 2008 08:45:37 AM IST

City Railway Station-Bus Station

Hawkers selling peanuts, monkey caps and maps greet you at the entrance of the subway.

There is no ramp to get down into the subway and passengers hobble down the stairs, coaxing their reluctant luggage to follow. The subway gets packed whenever a train arrives at the station, with people having to fight their way inside.

There is a security guard who directs the crowd coming in or going out of the subway. When asked about the hawkers, the guard, on contract with the BBMP, says he is helpless. “My job is to operate the pump that takes out the water and make sure nobody creates trouble.” As you walk further into the subway, you discover a subterranean market selling everything from shades to sweaters, snacks to shoes, jeans, vegetables and fruits. One of the gates is shut. The subway was inaugurated by then chief minister S Bangarappa in 1991.

Bus station-towards KG road

The scene is slightly more chaotic here than the railway station- bus station subway.

Flower sellers, beggars and kids selling key chains form the welcome party at this subway. More than half of the subway is occupied by hawkers with a narrow lane left free in the middle of this market for pedestrians.

There is a security guard sitting around doing nothing. He says his job is to keep drunkards and rowdies out. Clearing the hawkers, is the responsibility of police he says, and police do nothing.

The hawkers say that they cause no trouble and are only making a living.

Ramesh says that they have trouble making ends meet as it is. He says they are constantly being evicted whenever there is a newspaper report or when politicians comes calling. “But we always come back.

Maybe after a week or month, we have no other option,” he says.

Near KR Market

The city’s oldest subway has no complaints. Even though there is garbage heaped near the entrance, inside it is relatively clean, well lit and has no hawkers. The number of people who use the subway is fewer than those who would rather dart across the road. Limited connectivity to the market area could be the reason for its infrequent use, as it connects only the stretch under KR Road. Work on the subway connecting it to the Market Circle and Avenue is still under progress.

Shivajinagar- Russel Market

Once you enter the Shivajinagar bus stand you will find stairs that lead you down to the entrance of a subway.

Approaching the entrance, you will only be staring down into a dark dungeon. Even if you manage enter into the subway, it is a complex maze with no proper direction boards.

Add to it, the filth surroundings and the stench emanates and you have the picture of an imperfect subway that should ideally have led to the Russel market, a sought-after market for meat and fish.

One wonders why the authorities who have managed all these years a reasonably good show of cleanliness at the Shivajinagar bus stand, haven't thought of maintaining hygiene in the subway.

Pavements shrinking by the day

Pedestrians of Bangalore may perhaps, be listed as one of the species on the verge of extinction.

Always forced to walk on the roads, the pedestrian — especially the disabled and the elderly — faces the constant threat of being mowed down by speeding vehicles. Authorities aren't any less reckless, it appears.

While planning new roads or upgrading the existing ones they don't seem to care a bit for those who are on their feet. With trees fast disappearing from the avenues, our roads have almost become gas chambers and you survive only if you are on the wheels. Long live the pedestrian.

The picture here shows magic boxes occupying whatever is left of the footpath.


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