Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Here order is needed, not widening

Here order is needed, not widening

If the crowded Dharmaraj Koil Street in Shivajinagar is to be widened, thousands of people will be rendered jobless. Traders say proper signals, strict enforcement of one-way and parking rules and clearance of footpaths can help in decongesting this busy, market area stretch

Shilpa CB

The streets of Shivajinagar are generous to the hawker and the street vendor but not so much to the motorist, especially during festive seasons. It is meant to be that way. Too bad if cars wanting a smooth passage through these short routes to the city are inconvenienced, say shoppers and vendors on Dharmaraj Koil Street, one of the many crowded lanes being considered for widening.
Those who depend on the street for their livelihood oppose the plan for obvious reasons. "Widening will help. But where shall I go? The government won't give any substitute land or compensation," says Ratnavelu Chettiar who runs a shop beside the 150-year-old Sri Ekambareshwarar Dharmaraja temple that lends its name to the street it stands on.
"Widening should not be done as thousands of people will become unemployed. Besides, the government is not giving any compensation," says Suhail TA, a businessman who has been operating from here since 1975.
"I will lose 5 ft of my shop. How will the traders benefit? It will only help the traffic needs of this road," Suhail says.
Clearly, the street is more than just a transit road for vehicles that use it as a link road to move from Ulsoor, Fraser Town, Cox Town and other areas towards Queen's Corner. Most hours of the day, it stays true to its character. "It's a market area. Naturally, there will be congestion," says Chettiar, in a matter-of-fact way.
A solution that is being proposed for regular roads will not do much for a bustling market area like this one, argue traders. Instead, the onus is on the traffic police to 'control' the traffic. There is no signal at the Taj Hotel Junction and the one-way rule applicable for part of the street is violated, they say. And 'control', to those sitting inside their shops, means clearing hawkers from the footpath and keeping away autos that linger around waiting for customers.
"There is no need to tamper with this street. If the footpaths are cleared, the public will walk on them instead of on roads," says Tanvir Ahmed, a perfume shop owner who also uses part of the road to advertise his wares. Haphazard parking is also blamed for making things difficult for shoppers, traders and passing traffic. Further away from the market, illegal parking of cars eats into the little space available.
"From Methodist Mission School to Nala Road or Bose Circle, you will find cars parked on both sides. Even one-way traffic can't move easily. Obvioulsy, there will be jams on this two-way street," says Ramu K who has been around for 53 years. Sreekanth PK, a grocery shop owner, says the street's proximity to Commercial Street makes it a free-for-all parking lot.
It will, however, be wrong to assume that widening the road will automatically make it orderly. The bustling market area will continue to grapple with several issues while functioning in the manner it does today. The many persistent civic problems will contribute to chaos.
"The drains, especially at the Lubbay Masjid Street Corner, overflow during rains. All repairs have only offered temporary relief. They don't do anything permanent here," says Ramu.
"When it rains, it is hellish here. The drainage problem is our biggest and long-standing complaint," says Abdullah Basha, owner of a grocery shop operating here for 40 years.
"Water flows in one direction when it rains. After it stops, it flows in the opposite direction. Sometimes, the water is knee-high. It even flows into my shop," Sreekanth says.
While pedestrians and residents complain of having to wade through sewage water during rains, others talk of the murky water that flows out of their taps.
"The water we get is not clean," says Lakshmi Padmanabha, who runs a small canteen here. They have no choice but to use the dirty water to cook the food to keep their business going.
What about road widening?
"The larger the road, the more will be the number of vehicles. Every one wants to own a car or a two-wheeler. That being the case, how can road widening help us," she asks.


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