Morning walkers in the holy city have lost what was, perhaps, their last remaining favourite road.
An unplanned concrete divider has killed the beauty of Mcleod Road running along the Government College for Girls (GCG). The strolls over there used to be smooth, as the road used to be wide and traffic-free. The median has brought in potholes, logjams, and encroachment.
These days, when all roads in the city are clogged with traffic most of the time, the route rechristened Bhagwan Maharvir Marg was an exception. Now its width has shrunk from 90 feet, thanks to the concrete divider coming up between Cantonment Chowk and St Francis School Chowk.
The still unfinished divider is not even in the middle of the road. Three fourths of the road lies on one side.
Police office to blame
Problems began early this year with the shifting of the police commissioner's office from District Administrative Complex (DAC) to a building adjoining the canal rest house opposite the GCG. This was in view of a new administrative complex coming up.
The shifting brought an NRI police station a few yards from the police commissioner's office. It was then that the concrete divider came up from the police station to Cantonment Chowk. The fourth part of the road, which is towards the police commissioner's office, now has become the property of cops virtually, as only they or their visitors are allowed to drive on this route.
The asymmetric division of the road is what leads to traffic jams on the narrow side. The jams occur normally when buses and autorickshaws halt to pick up or drop the GCG students.
Did the divider come up to secure the police commissioner's office and make a safe passage for officers?
If this was the reason, then police should remember that in the days of terrorism in the state, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) control room was at canal rest house opposite the GCG but the force had not made the zone restricted. The then Punjab Police chief, KPS Gill, would stay at canal rest house when in the city.
Reacting to the point, Improvement Trust chairman Sandeep Rishi said: "This road is to be widened further. When it is done, we will not have to build a divider then."
He indicated that the road would be widened after the Canal Colony area was developed. He accepted that the divider had been built in a hurry and without a plan.