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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Gurugram authority allocates less than 1% mobility budget for pedestrians

gurugram Updated: Sep 29, 2019 20:43 IST
Prayag Arora-Desai
Prayag Arora-Desai

The Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority’s (GMDA) draft mobility management plan for the city allocates less than 1% of its total budget for development of pedestrian infrastructure. This, citizens and experts have said, is at odds with one of the underlying objectives of the Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP), which is to “bring about a more equitable allocation of road space with people, rather than vehicles, as its focus”.

The CMP, which was released to the public earlier this month, has reserved just ₹1.5 crore, out of a grand total of ₹19,788.5 crore, for the development of footpaths, installation of pelican signals and upgradation of foot overbridges (FOBs) with escalators. This is about 0.008% of the total budget, and will be spent over the next 22 years.

There is no budgetary provision for development of zebra-crossings and table-top crossings when, according to the draft CMP’s own findings, nearly 48% of all daily trips in Gurugram are undertaken on foot.

In comparison, about 86% of the budget—₹15,229.4 crore—has been allocated for Metro rail expansion. Of the remaining ₹2,678 crores, about 30% has been allocated for developing new link roads between Gurugram and Delhi, and for widening roads for internal connectivity, shows the data presented in Chapter 16 of the draft CMP.

“For the ₹1.5 crore being spent on building footpaths, ₹800 crore will be spent on building new roads. This favours private vehicles, which account for only about 10% of all trips undertaken in the city. The plan has completely ignored the needs of the larger population which travels on foot,” said city-based transport expert Sarika Panda Bhatt, who also explained that at least 80% of the road trips undertaken in the city are of 5km or less. “This is the ideal distance for cycling or walking. However, instead of investing in these modes and promoting sustainable mobility, there is a concerted push for development of roads,” Bhatt said.

Chief executive officer of the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) V Umashankar, said, “The cost of a Metro project, in comparison to building a footpath, is substantially more. So that’s one reason for the discrepancy. If the public feels the budgetary allocation is not in keeping with the finds of the various surveys which were conducted as part of the exercise then that is a fine comment to bring up. We will refer it back to the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. However, it is important for citizens to first see if they agree with the survey’s findings and gauge whether the budgetary allocations are enough, as opposed to seeing the allocation in isolation.”

Some experts, however, said that this was not the case.

A transport planner from the Center for Excellence in Urban Transport said, “The CMP makes some interesting, though not surprising observations, about the city. However, its proposed interventions don’t do enough to address these same problems.”

For example, the draft CMP reveals the stark lack of city’s walkability and also mentions that Gurugram’s streets are “functioning less as social gathering spaces and market areas, and more as conduits for an ever-increasing volume of (vehicular) traffic”.

“If you want to adequately address this problem, then you are going to have to stop road widening and you will need to invest more than ₹1.5 crore for developing walkable, pedestrian friendly surfaces. ₹1.5 crore is not enough to even build 1km of footpath, let alone footpaths all over the city. So, it (the allocation) certainly needs to be reconsidered,” said the expert requesting anonymity.

The plan is available on the authority’s website for public feedback till October 4.

First Published: Sep 29, 2019 20:43 IST

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