Thursday, August 12, 2010

Few take road widening seriously

Few take road widening seriously

The project will take many years and may even be dropped, say residents

Shilpa CB

Those living on Hosahalli Main Road have been making do with little. The chaotic and busy stretch in the Vijayanagar Pipeline area, where small businesses thrive, is not a pleasant place to visit.
Will widening the Hosahalli Road give it the much needed face-lift? Residents think that even if it gets a better look, they will be the ultimate losers. Even before the process started, a doctor who was running a successful clinic for over two decades left in panic.
"I took over after he left. This road plan only drove him out," says Dr Gayathri R, who has been running a clinic for the last one-and-half years. Why did she move in despite knowing well that the clinic may be razed one day? "It may take 10 years. The threat has been around for a long time. Authorities just want to put fear in our minds," says Gayathri who attends to at least 10 to 12 cases of chikungunya a day.
The spread of chikungunya is no surprise in the area as piles of garbage remain unattended for days. Water supply is restricted to thrice a week and power is shut down every three hours. Dr Gayathri uses an emergency light after sunset. She works till 10 pm. "Our job is to serve the people. We have to work," she says, looking at the red marking on the clinic's wall.
Sound bytes on road-widening from the powers that be have reached this humble neighbourhood too. But no one is taking them seriously. "What is the guarantee that the road will be widened," asks Nataraj R, a businessman who owns a 10-year-old paint shop.
Citizens say that strengthening public transport and restricting private vehicles will bail the city out of the mess that it is in today. Nataraj's 10-member family owns just one bike and one car. Why can't the others do the same, he asks.
Nataraj GM, another resident, wonders why he has to walk all the way to Vijayanagar main bus stand every night and why there are no buses plying the same route.
"Instead of having too many Volvos, they should press into service more regular buses. Sometimes, I have to catch an auto to Vijayanagar bus stand and then take a bus from there to Moodalapalya where I live," says this man who works in a shop on Hosahalli Main Road.
Nataraj's experience has led him to believe that Metro won't be very successful in reducing the traffic problem. "After alighting at a Metro station, people living in lanes two to three kilometres away will still be forced to walk or take an auto. Hence, most commuters will continue using own vehicles," he says.
Widening plan could have worked when the areas surrounding these roads were sparsely populated. Now, it is too late for such a step, people say.
Recent statements by the mayor have not given much relief to Nasir Hussain, a building owner. He is not sure whether he will be allowed to keep the 17ft of his 30X55 property. "We haven't received any notice yet. We just saw the marking a few hours after it was done," he says.
Is he eager to erase it? "What's the big deal? We will get rid of it probably tomorrow," he says nonchalantly, not giving too much importance to what he's been hearing in the news.
"We will not take the mayor's word for anything. Who knows what the BBMP will spring on us in a year or two. Whatever they decide, we will not leave without good compensation," says Hussain.
But widening is no solution at all. Instead, positive steps like regular visits by traffic policemen, parking of vehicles on one side of the road, and clearing footpaths of encroachments will ensure smooth traffic flow, he says.
Pointing at his staircase, young Yusuf Khan says sarcastically that the road could be extended up till there. "Better leave things as they are. This is already a wide stretch here," he says.
Mohammed Miamutullah, another resident, says it will be hard for people to make alternative arrangements and leave immediately. "In a few years, if we are offered adequate compensation, we might consider establishing our business elsewhere. But it may never come to that. This stretch is already quite wide. Traffic turns chaotic only when policemen are not around. That indicates road discipline is needed, not widening," says the manager of a shop


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