Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Footpath? My foot! [FM8579-29]

PUNE: The much hyped and hasty implementation of the ambitious Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) on the 12.2-km Hadapsar-Swargate-Katraj corridor did not have much to offer to Puneites, especially on Satara road, it has created one enormous problem, i.e. footpaths.

The incomplete BRTS route was inaugurated in December 2006 with an eye on the February civic polls, ignoring pleas of activists and transport experts over the incomplete work.

The BRTS was started without a detailed project report (DPR) covering elements like reserved lanes, off-board ticketing, Intelligent Transport Service (ITS), integration with other modes of transport (including PMPML), decisions on routes and fares, depots, buses, finance, management and the operational structure to run the system.

In an effort to segregate lanes for the BRTS-buses, road-widening was undertaken by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). The stretches were widened on Satara road, but no provisions were made for footpaths and cycle tracks. In fact, whatever pavements and cycle track network did get initiated stands encroached upon today. And ultimately the Satara road stretch, except a few patches, is sans footpaths.

"Both sides of the road are without footpaths. At many spots, they are encroached upon by vendors and shopkeepers," says Vishwanath Patil who stays near the Shankar Maharaj Math. "Besides, there is no space for walking as showroom owners park their cars on the roadside," he says.

At places, like opposite City Pride, footpaths have been encroached upon by shop owners. "It is difficult for senior citizens to even get a place to stand here,” a citizen complained.

Despite the Union government having approved Rs 65 crore for the BRTS pilot-route under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, politicians and administrative officials do not seem to have done any justice to it.

"People park their two-wheelers on the footpaths and even after repeated complaints, the PMC officials have done nothing about it," says Vasudha Joshi a senior citizen who says that walking is impossible on Satara road. "The lives of pedestrians are in danger here with vehicles speeding on the road and no footpath or zebra crossings to keep them safe," she says.

With shopping malls and eateries coming up here, traffic jams and congestion are a regular affair, especially during peak hours. "It is difficult to even step out of the house. Without any facilities for those on foot, we have no choice but to walk on the sides of the road. This leaves us at the mercy of motorists," says Vitthal Puranik, who lives near the Rajrishi Shahu housing society.
Source: The Times of India, Pune

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