Wider Footpaths by MSCL Benefit OTHERS Than the REAL COMMUTERS

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Wider Footpath & New Bus Shelters by Mangaluru Smart City Ltd (MSCL) Benefit OTHERS Than the Commuters/Pedestrians

Mangaluru: As any sensible and educated Citizens of Mangaluru, nine out of ten will say that the construction of a WIDER FOOTPATH is a DUMB and UNSCIENTIC idea, one could think. However, if these wider footpaths did serve the real purpose to the real commuters/pedestrians, then it would be wrong on my part to draft this report. But if you look at all the new wider footpaths and the new bus shelters constructed as part of Smart City Development Projects by MSCL, they don’t serve a damn thing to the much-needed use of commuters, rather than benefiting the street vendors, hawkers, homeless, stray dogs- and in many places for illegal parking.

So, what is the use of constructing the wider footpaths and bus shelters if they are not used by real commuters? We are already seeing illegal parking of vehicles and encroachment along footpaths by shopkeepers and street vendors that have choked the City, thereby causing huge inconveniences to the public. Many citizens are questioning what is the use of spending lakhs/crores on these senseless Wide Footpaths when most of it is used for parking by four-wheelers and two-wheeler owners, street vendors, stray dogs, homeless/beggars etc.

What was the need to widen an existing footpath, which has now created 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 are nothing but total confusion. And then it will be hard for the people to cope with such decisions spanning months in this situation. No doubt this is yet another unscientific and Unplanned project the ONE Mangaluru Smart City Architect/Engineer, who is known for planning LARGE Circles in this congested city, now coming up with WIDER FOOTPATHS, instead of WIDENING the ROADS, which are need of the hour rather than the footpaths, since only a few people use the footpaths- and now already a bunch of these widened footpaths have been encroached by street vendors etc.

Just because our city’s 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 it- 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 or CHICAGO?

They alleged that roadside vendors and shopkeepers have occupied footpaths thereby leaving no space for pedestrians who are forced to walk on the streets. “On one side shopkeepers and street vendors have occupied the footpaths and on the other hand people park their vehicles illegally on the roadside. The height is that first street vendors used to occupy the footpaths to display their goods, now people have been parking two-wheelers on these footpaths, Few of the apartment residents nearby have many times apprised the MCC and other concerned authorities but they have failed to act on the ground” said 60-year-old Naresh K, a resident of Pandeshwar. Just look at a petty shop set up right on the newly done footpath, near Corporation Bank H.O. and opposite Forum Fiza Mall- and the police, other district and MCC officials who pass by that stretch of the road have done nothing about it.

Wider Footpath near Town Hall used by Street Vendors, and Others is in Pathetic condition and Stinking too

When Team Mangalorean contacted the concerned persons in MSCL and MCC they said that they would look into it and action will be taken against the street vendors occupying the footpaths and people parking their vehicles illegally.- but as of now, no action has been taken, other than just promises. If MSCL or MCC is constructing these footpaths, it is their responsibility to see that no illegal street vendors occupy the footpaths, and also see that no vehicles are parked. First of all Smart City Mangaluru needs WIDER Roads & Not WIDER Footpaths! Period. Eventually, when all these wide footpaths are done, they would get encroached by hawkers/squatters- Has the design tried to include them? Do you have designated hawker zones?- I want to ask the Smart Engineers behind the senseless Wide Footpaths.

Just look at these new wide footpaths being used by out of town street vendors who are making a brisk business selling flowers, used clothing, vegetables etc, and once they leave, the footpaths are trashed with garbage, which the city officials have turned a blind eye even after several reports by Team Mangalorean, and other print media. Now we see a bunch of balloon sellers who spend their nights on the brand new wide footpath near Town Hall/opposite Lady Goshen Hospital, and they have messed up the entire area-you can see them urinating, shitting..and even taking a bath. Wow- is this what you call a smart city? Also look at the street vendors across from the state bank, near the fish market, who have already occupied most of these wide footpaths for their business- and no action has been taken either by MCC or MSCL- other than just BIG talks during meetings, that they will evict illegal street vendors immediately. With roadside vendors and shopkeepers occupying footpaths leaves no space for pedestrians, who are forced to walk on the streets.

Another thing is that, even after a few wider footpaths are ready, people who are used to walking, are never seen using the footpath facilities anyhow? They feel safer walking on the streets than on the footpaths encroached by hawkers, stray dogs, mobile canteens, homeless, and many of these footpaths are left with open pits, where one could fall into and get injured. This is not smart by the smart people behind it? Please wake up Smart City Officials from planning BIGGER circles and WIDER footpaths– this is India and Mangaluru. Be realistic and pragmatic in solving problems, not building castles in the air.

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