Rs 9 Crore State-of-the-Art Rajaji Park/Underpass-Teetering on Edge of Failure!

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Rs 9 Crore State-of-the-Art Rajaji Park/Underpass near Town Hall/Clock tower-Teetering on Edge of Failure! Only a FEW COMMUTERS/PASSENGERS from Railway Station are using the UNDERPASS. Unless and until, MSCL or MCC deputes someone to direct/educate the passengers/people to use the Underpass, THEY will be seen still crossing the busy road, putting their lives at risk

Mangaluru: The pedestrian underpass, along with a Park which was under construction near the Clock Tower in the city for over TWO YEARS was finally completed and inaugurated on Sunday 2 October 2022 on Gandhi Jayanti, for the convenience of people. The 10-meter-wide underpass, which was constructed as per the previous DPR to cross the Nehru Maidan Road is ready to use. The second phase of work to extend the length of the underpass, so that pedestrians may cross the Rao and Rao Circle-Clock Tower stretch of road is also completed.

Sounds good- however, since its launch on 2 October until today, hardly anyone is making use of the UNDERPASS, other than people and students who are aware of the underpass. Team Mangalorean was near the Town Hall/Mini Vidhana Soudha area to observe how many commuters will take the underpass to reach the other side-surprisingly, during an hour, only FOUR PERSONS used the underpass, while the rest of the travellers/visitors to the City, were still seen crossing with risk between the speeding traffic. So what good is it to have an expensive underpass, when only 2% of the masses use it? Seems like it is teetering on the edge of failure!

Nice to know that the Key features of the underpass include multiple entry or exit points on either side of the road, access paired with a staircase and ramp for the physically challenged, renovation of Gandhi Park into a plaza, generating commercial potential by dedicating spaces for kiosks within the plaza, and provision of space for commercial advertising and murals depicting city heritage along the underpass walls. With the first phase of the underpass to cross the Nehru Maidan Road near the Mini Vidhana Soudha was getting completed, Mangaluru Smart City Limited (MSCL) took up the second phase of work. In the second phase, the underpass was extended further, for pedestrians to cross the Rao and Rao Circle-Clock Tower Road stretch. Those who enter the pedestrian underpass from the entry point at Mini Vidhana Soudha may cross two roads now. While the completion of work on this underpass has been going on for over two years, the public has widely criticized the slow pace of the project. Also, the Lockdown during Covid and monsoon season delayed the work.

This underground pedestrian crossing was done mainly to be useful to thousands of passengers who arrive in the city from the railway station. Earlier, it was really risky to cross the road at this point, especially for women, children and senior citizens. However, now that a new UNDERPASS is constructed, not many passengers arriving from Mangalore Central railway station not aware of the new underpass are seen crossing the busy road. Pictures in this report will support this sentence. Prior to this project, the demand to construct either a skywalk or an underground pedestrian crossing had been planned for decades. Later during the Congress Rule, the skywalk project was formed and the foundation stone was also laid by the then district in-charge minister Ramanath Rai. However, the project never materialized due to the enormous cost.

Only FOUR People made Use of the Underpass between 7:30 am -8:30 am 

Among the bunch of projects that had been criticized, where activists and citizens had raised their voices for the stupidity of the concerned officials of Mangaluru Smart City Ltd. and Mangaluru City Corporation, joined hand in hand with our MP and MLA, the ongoing project of Underpass near Town Hall was stated as a sheer waste of money. However, no one bothered either from MCC or MSCL, since the money utilized by them was the hard-earned money of the taxpayers, and not the concerned officials. Many had predicted that this Underpass which is completed will be a waste of money, and now that it is open, it could be a haven for alcoholics, drug dealers and other illegal activities, if no proper security is in force or if the lighting goes out of order.

SECURITY PERSON- Working Hard or HARDLY WORKING? 

Earlier, the present issue of Underpass was raised by a bunch of social activists, including Dilraj Alva-the former President of the Dakshina Kannada District Bus Owners Association who on his Facebook questioned the authorities on whether it was necessary to spend Rs 9 Crore on the construction of a pedestrian Underpass. In his Facebook post, Dilraj Alva underscored the futility of building pedestrian Underpasses. He had said, “Is there one example of a pedestrian UnderPass that is useful? The answer is NO because 99% of them are useless. And this Underpass is a perfect example, which will be out of use very soon. Dilraj speaking to Team Mangalorean further said, “It should be noted that most of the pedestrian Underpass often turn out to be used for illegal and immoral activities. This underpass near the Mangaluru Central Station to help passengers cross the busy thoroughfare and I am sure that, after the inauguration, the structure will become a safe haven for immoral activities, not to mention a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which is already happening“.

Dilraj further said, “On one hand, the new building to house the DC’s office is being constructed in Padil, in the outskirts of the City, where a bunch of trees were felled, and while the main bus stand is also being shifted from the City, thus creating nothing but more hassles. Traffic movement is expected to reduce as a result, making one wonder why Rs 9 crores were spent on this Underpass, which will be a useless and dumb project, rather than feeding the homeless and the needy.

And now in spite of this underpass being put into use, there is hardly anyone using this Underpass, since they are used to footpaths and streets. Unless and until MSCL deputes someone to direct/educate the passengers/people to use the Underpass, people will be seen still crossing the busy road, putting their lives at risk. And once it is dark, the underpass will surely turn into a Red Light Zone, benefitting the transgenders and the regular women. Oh well, that’s our Smart City managed by Not So Officials!

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