Aundh smart city road: Good public initiatives need good implementation too
The absence of decent footpaths in the city has been a sore point with the citizenry at largepune Updated: Aug 07, 2017 10:06 IST
Residents of Aundh are aghast with what they are witnessing in their locality. Within days of the newly designed Aundh smart city road opening to traffic, the broad footpaths have become hazardous to pedestrians during peak hour traffic.
As seen in a front page picture published by Hindustan Times on Sunday, two wheeler riders have been blatantly mis-using the broadened footpath to bypass the slow-moving traffic during peak hours.
While there are strong differences over the cost-benefit issues of this project which will eventually cost Rs.22 crore for a 1.5 km stretch, what cannot be denied is the attention paid by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to the basic needs of pedestrians in the locality. For a long time now, pedestrians and citizen-activists have been crying for well-maintained footpaths in the city. As compared to what existed before, the new footpaths on Aundh Road is a fine example of good work done by the PMC.
However, this entire effort of creating broad walkways under the big ticket Smart City initiative would stand defeated if the footpaths are going to be turned into motorcycle lanes by irresponsible motorists who abound on our roads.
The absence of decent footpaths in the city has been a sore point with the citizenry at large, especially the elderly, who have no choice but to walk small distances in their neighbourhoods for various things. The PMC has done good work in parts of the city - take the example of JM Road, Sus Road or ITI Road in Aundh where the footpaths are as they should be. Even in the densely populated Tulshi Baug area, the traffic police had put barricades on the road itself to create a safe walkway for shoppers. This was a much-appreciated initiative.
At the newly-designed Aundh Road, the footpaths are wheelchair-friendly too as enough space has been given between the bollards for a wheelchair to pass through. While this needs to be appreciated, the part of the footpath adjoining the road needs more closely-spaced bollards to prevent two wheelers from plying on the footpaths. Architects such as Prasanna Desai have probably done a poor job on the Aundh Road project if their design permits two wheelers to zip through on the footpaths. Given the tendency of Indian motorists to break traffic rules and take the fastest route and shortest cut possible-
even if that means driving on the wrong side – it is necessary to integrate hurdles for motorists into the design of the footpaths itself.
The traffic police cannot be expected to maintain vigil at all times on all the roads of the city, to ensure that footpaths are not misused by motorists.
This latest irony over the Aundh smart city road brings us to the larger issue of good public initiatives going to seed in the country because of bad implementation. Scores of examples exist to substantiate this point. Just as we have good laws but poor implementation, public funds are spent lavishly on public projects, but once completed, these projects are often neglected and left to their own fate with no one held accountable.
The beautiful footpaths at Aundh need to be protected from misuse and it is finally the residents of the area who will need to step in and take a stand.