Not Smart! MSCL is Widening FOOTPATHS Instead of Widening the Congested ROADS?

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Not Smart! MSCL is Widening FOOTPATHS Instead of Widening the Congested ROADS?

Mangaluru: Seems like yet another unscientific and Unplanned project the Mangaluru Smart City Architect/Engineer who is known for planning LARGE Circles in this congested city, has now come up with projects of WIDENING the FOOTPATHS to a size of 7-8 feet, instead of WIDENING the ROADS, which are need of the hour rather than the footpaths, since hardly a few people use the footpaths- and the reason for that, the commuters feel that walking on the streets is much safer than walking on the footpaths built by the engineers/contractors of MSCL or Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC).

Few months back, a Social Worker and Ex-Ward President of BJP Attavar Ward Bhaskar Kiran had submitted a memorandum to Mr Ponnuraj V-the Chairman of Mangaluru Smart City Limited (MSCL) to STOP widening of existing Footpath starting from Clock Tower until A B Shetty circle in the City. The memorandum stated that the road already has a footpath of sufficient width and further widening it will result in reducing the existing three lane concrete road which handles heavy traffic. The road will get congested resulting in traffic jams. “The decision to broaden the existing footpath at the cost of reducing the three lane concrete road on the entire stretch is illogical. The buses that stop at the designated bus stops will now hinder free traffic flow,” it said.

Well said by Bhasker Amin, and he was absolutely right, as to why even widen an existing footpath, which will surely create traffic chaos, when two buses park side by side in front of the bus shelters on that stretch of the road. If you look at the present situation in Mangaluru, where MSCL has taken up a bunch of projects at the same time, has put the motorists and commuters in hardship- and the road closure and diversions is nothing but total confusion. And then it will be hard for the people to cope with such decisions spanning months in this situation.

First of all, many roads in Mangaluru are so narrow and when plans by MSCL to widen footpaths will make the traffic movement to slow down or create congestion, thereby leading to chaos and leaving the motorists and people frustrated. The present situation in the City due to road concretizing or laying UGD pipelines has put the people and the motorists in particular into hardships, as it makes it very difficult for them to reach their destinations. The only way to reach your destination quick and easy, due to the present arrangement of MSCL developmental works, is to take a helicopter or private plane ?

Unfortunately, the authorities at MSCL gave a damn to Bhaskar’s memorandum, since the footpath widening on that stretch of the road is in progress at the moment after it was stopped due to HC order on all MSCL works. Now added to this project, we are seeing yet another stretch of footpath along the Balmatta road (in front of Milagres Centre/opp Hampankatta Syndicate Bank) where widening of the footpath to the size of 7-8 feet is in progress. Seems like MSCL is giving more importance to the pedestrians than the motorists. First of all the road in front of Milagres Centre (Hampankatta) is narrow, and during peak hours it’s always congested, and when such is the case, here we have our SMART ENGINEERS in SMART CITY (MSCL) constructing a wider footpath, thereby leading to more traffic chaos.

Roughly few pedestrians get hurt on Mangaluru roads every day. Pedestrian is as important a mobility mode as vehicles. Over 50% of trips in a day are either fully or partly on foot. The invisible lower middle class and the poor use of the non-existent footpaths. Nothing about our road designs takes the pedestrian into account. A civilized society takes care of its vulnerable groups – on our roads that would be the pedestrian. Good pedestrian paths make for a healthy lifestyle. But why so much width for pedestrians?

The underground utilities are all planned under the pedestrian walkway. So consider the width required in laying Sewerage pipes, Water pipes, Power cables, OFC / Gas cable ducts, Stormwater drains, alongside – it does need a fair amount of space! But surely not such footpaths with wider width, eating away most of the road space. And if you think the utilities along the ‘motorable’ roads are okay, the jutting MCC manholes across our city putting everyone at risk and slowing down traffic should make you think again. Isn’t it smarter to take them utilities below the pedestrian paths?

Our roads are already clogged and it’s going to get worse with hundreds of vehicles being bought per day. There is no hope for the future unless we embrace public transportation (rail, bus, shared cabs, autos) and alternate modes (walking, cycling) on a large scale basis. I do agree that as we develop better footpaths across the city, more people will come out and accept walking as a safer and better way of moving around. But in the meantime, the footpaths must be safer and pedestrian-friendly, unlike ours here in Mangaluru. But widening footpaths just because there is space at some points, and narrow footpaths where there is not much space available. Similarly is the case here- the footpath will be wider for a short distance, but once you pass Catholic Club, the footpath is narrow or there is no footpath at all? Strange but True- and that’s the beauty of Mangaluru Smart City!

It’s all very noble that you want to create footpaths and better services. But the fundamental question for me is- THE ROADS/FOOTPATHS IN THE CITY CENTRE AREA OF A RELATIVELY GOOD QUALITY- WHY COULDN’T BETTER PLANS BE IMPLEMENTED FOR THE ROADS THAT ARE IN A HORRIBLE CONDITION AND DOES NOT HAVE FOOTPATHS? Also if you look at the Indian mindset, footpaths are never used for walking even if it’s present- people always tend to walk on the road- can this design of WIDE FOOTPATHS address this issue?? Eventually, the wide footpaths would get encroached by hawkers/squatters- Has the design tried to include them? Do you have designated hawker zones?

Footpath will be NARROW from Catholic Club until Hampankatta Junction?

Just because our cities engineers went abroad to learn about the infrastructure and city’s development in countries like the USA, UK, Singapore and many others, you simply can’t implement foreign infrastructure here in Kudla, where we have a huge population, heavy traffic on congested roads, and added to that most of the good space is taken over by hawkers/street vendors and beggars. It’s very rosy to look at Copenhagen-Amsterdam and romanticize- but their socio-economic-cultural-governance is very different and rather impossible to replicate. We need to design roads according to CONTEXT and not COPENHAGEN? Another thing is that, even if the wider footpath is complete, people who are used to walking on streets will never use the footpath facility anyhow? Until the widening of the footpath is completed, let’s keep our fingers crossed, and hope for the best, with no problems to shoot up, whatsoever?

The wide footpaths pretty soon could be parking places for 2/4W, do you think our already-strained police force has time to enforce rules – anyway, who cares, it is a matter of Rs 100. I only pity the ordinary traffic constable and traffic warden (woman many a time) who man the traffic – definitely, they have lost 20% of their lifespan breathing the polluted air, while everyone else in the cars is with the AC on and idling the engine, waiting for the never-ending RED to turn GREEN. I am willing to take the respected people of MSCL or MCC on a tour in my vehicle at my cost and show them the mess that they have created, imagining Mnagaluru to be Europe or the USA, that they might have seen during their abroad road study tour. Please wake up Smart City Officials. especially the ONE main Architect /engineer who is always known for SCREW UP plans, from planning BIGGER circles and WIDER footpaths– this is India and Mnagaluru. Be realistic and pragmatic in solving problems, not building castles in the air.

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1 Comment

  1. It’s very simple. They * ** to get to that position. They will need to do these projects to receive **….

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