Haridwar grapples with traffic as statues hinder vehicles at squaresUpdated: Aug 06, 2017, 20:21 IST
HARIDWAR: Statues standing at road intersections and squares in Haridwar have become hurdles for smooth flow of traffic.
Lakhs of pilgrims come to Haridwar, a major religious-spiritual place, throughout the year to take a dip in the Ganga and visit shrines.
Along with hundreds of dharamshalas, ashrams, muths and temples, the city is dotted with statues of religious and spiritual gurus. Almost 90% of the squares are named after gurus and statues have been installed there.
People gather at these intersections to offer prayers. Traffic management at such places has become a tough job with a rise in the number of vehicles and encroachments on road sides.
Traffic congestion is a regular sight at Pull Jatwada-Arya Nagar intersection, Chandracharya square, Rishikul square, Maharaja Agrasen square, Devpura, Shiv Moorti square, Bhagwan Valmiki square, and Tulsi square, among others.
The district administration has initiated a drive to create a consensus among saints, akhada heads, teerth purohits and local people to lift the statues and put them on raised structures, so that traffic personnel can stand below them and manage vehicular flow.
“Effective traffic management is my priority and I have met some saints of akhadas and those associated with statues of religious-spiritual figures. As soon as we get their consent, we will start erecting stages to put the statues on them,” said senior superintendent of police Krishan Kumar VK.
“We will start with the statue of Shri Chand Bhagwan at Chandracharya square as we have got the consent; hopefully we will be able to lift it soon.”
STATUES ON NATIONAL HIGHWAY
The statue of Swami Shraddhanand at Singh Dwar intersection posed a bottleneck to broadening of the national highway passing through Haridwar.
“It was not easy to convince staff, students and people associated with Gurukul Kangri University about necessity of shifting the statue for flyover and highway broadening work. After the statue was shifted, flyover work became smooth,” said an official of Era Infra company.
There was a move to install a statue of Tamil saint and poet Thiruvalluvur at Shankaracharya square on NH-58 near the state guest house, where Adi Guru Shankaracharya’s statue exists from 2016. After opposition from some saints, the administration put up the statue at Mela Control Room-August Kranti Bhawan near Har-Ki-Pauri.
VEHICLES COLLIDE WITH STATUES
Vehicles colliding with statues, particularly in night, have been reported in Haridwar. Statues at Singh Dwar, Rishikul chowk, Laltaura bridge, Shankaracharya square and Maharaja Agrasen square are vulnerable to accidents, said city circle officer Prakash Chand Devli.
“Statues need to be relocated or put up on raised structures. As vehicular pressure increases, there is more possibility of the statues getting damaged by speeding vehicles,” Devli said.
STATUES HINDER TRAFFIC: REPORT
A survey done by the district police with the help of experts has recommended that statues be either shifted or lifted to higher positions to ease traffic snarls at major intersections in Haridwar.
According to the report, the city’s busiest intersection is Chandracharya square, which is the entry gate to the Industrial Township of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Industrial Estate of SIDCUL and sub-urban Jwalapur.
As the statue of Shri Chandra Bhagwan exists at the intersection, traffic management is being done by six police personnel. If traffic lights are put up there or the statue is lifted, then one or two personnel can manage traffic at the juncture, the report said.
TRAFFIC LIGHT NOT VISIBLE
Many statues, particularly at Devpura square and Rishikul square, stand before traffic light posts, hindering visibility to commuters.
People coming from Haridwar railway station and bus stand can’t see traffic signals as Maharaj Agrasen statue stands in between. At Rishikul, the statue of Pt Madan Mohan Malviya causes traffic inconvenience.
Such intersections need to be redesigned to give them a beautiful look and facilitate better traffic flow, mayor Manoj Garg said.
He, however, said, “As Haridwar is a religious-spiritual place, saint community and akhadas have a major say; we have to ensure that religious sentiments of saints and devotees are nor hurt.”
MINISTER ASSURES OF DESIGNER LOOK
Major intersections of the city will have a designer and spacious look by the next Maha Kumbh in 2021, said Uttarakhand Urban development minister Madan Kaushik.
While inspecting traffic management at Bhagat Singh square, he said experts’ opinion will be taken to end snarls.
“During 2010 Maha Kumbh, 12 intersections were expanded at a cost of Rs 1.76 crore. No statue was shifted barring at Tusli chowk, which is now spacious. Niranjani Akhada saints offered to have a new rotary and statue at the place,” said Kaushik, a three-time Haridwar legislator.
“We will ensure traffic lights at major intersections by next Kumbh fair. With consent of saints, we will look for alternative measures as far as statues are concerned.”
SAINTS ON STATUES
Representatives of saints have urged administration and national highway authorities to ensure that statues remain at same place since they are worshipped.
“Last week on the 520th birth anniversary of Saint Tulsidas, a major function was organised at Shri Tulsi chowk. They are not mere statues but temples, passersby seek blessings from them,” said Pt Sumit Tiwari.
Mahamandaleshwar Swami Harichetnanand said, “Saints’ statues give an identity to Haridwar; our coming generations will get to know about them. We are not against development but lifting or shifting of the statues need to be done when there is no option.”