Monday, August 8, 2011

Walk through the city!

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.  ~Steven Wright

Presently as of some shoulder injury I am unable to play badminton & so walking from my home to Vaishali ( a restaura joint to meet many frds) each morning to have cup of tea with my group & what an experience to walk! It’s really true what our seniors have said, if you really want to know a city then walk along its roads! Even after spending so many years on the same route the surroundings looks so different when you walk over it. One comes to know so many small things along the road, the daily rituals of the occupiers of the street & the hurdles for pedestrians too! Hardly a 4km stretch of the road & each day something new is on platter along with the routine things! So thought of writing down one of the days walk & here it is...

Starting from my residence at 100’ DP road along river in Patwrdhan baug which has probably the best footpath in city, only confusion is it’s commonly shared with a cycle track often leading confusion whose right first? I.e. Cyclists should give way for pedestrians or vise versa! But mostly because of the undulations on the track & trees over the same its usually pedestrians who wins & cyclists prefer to paddle from the main road. Why people don’t use cycle track was my curiosity which got cleared due to this walk.

The next stage is probably one of the most crowded road in kothrud i.e. Mehendale garage road, it carries the traffic many times more than its capacity resulting in shrinking of footpath with width at some places merely 3’-4’ & that to MSEB transformers, trees , bus stop making it must for a pedestrian to get down on road at n number of times so at last one covers that stretch from road only. But best part in these both stretches is they are at least free from encroachment so that much solace is with pedestrians. The mehndale garage road ends in one of the most crowdie chowks in west & there is an underpass to cross it. This underpass is no doubt very convenient but god knows why it has rolling shutters at its all ends & the watchman locks it during nights. One of the gates has broken down & it’s a hazard that you get down in underpass & at other end you realize the gate is locked due to breakage so one has to go up fro other side cross the road & again go towards Karve road side. Another major hurdle is the flooring is made up of Granite stone, which no doubts look nice but in rainy season is extremely slippery. There has to be a  standard specification for all public works so no one can do fancy things at per his/her whims is what I felt when I stared facing such problem.

Then I come to again one very wide footpath on road connecting Nal stop to Mhatre bridge & gain no encroachment in fix forms but recently all the time it’s been occupied by beggars or flower sellers at signals. These guys does all their daily rituals from bating to eating on this footpath only & result is unavoidable making it impossible to walk on footpath in this part. All the time there are police on this part of road but  no one objects these people occupying the footpath full time & irony is the wall of the church which is along this footpath is painted by some company saying “ Green Pune ,Clean Pune” ! Well good advertise but right in front of the same what is displayed is exactly opposite! As whatever these people do over the footpath the remaining are laying all over the place right from the food waste to their bathing water!

Then comes the great Karve road stretch where food joints are there along with the goldsmiths sharing the shops all along the road. In morning time most of the shopkeepers are busy in cleaning their shops & the best way is to push all the garbage on footpath from the shop! Similarly the bus stops are on footpath only & the auto rickshaws waits for their customers right near bus stop making the PMT busses to stop quite away from the bus stop blocking the driving lanes of main road, this creates congestion of traffic & creating more emission of vehicular exhausts & who else but the worst sufferer is none other than the person using footpath! So many police or traffic police vehicles are going up & down from the karve road but nobody take any cognizance of these autos blocking PMT busses at bus stops. Also why the bus stops cantbe a bit carved down from the main lane & kept a lane inside keeping place for buses as well unobstructed walking place for the pedestrians. We have seen such arrangement in most of the foreign countries.
Also equally responsible are the food joints of which most customers are standing on foot paths literally blocking whatever little place available for walk! Cant there be some self discipline or respect for the pedestrians in the mind of these food joint runners as well the people standing right on the foot path & enjoying their cuppa tea? This question too haunts me!

Then come the stretch of Deccan as well FC road. Most of the persons living in Pune cross this section at least once in a day time for work or domestic purpose making it busy all time of the day. So are the footpaths right from the vehicle parking to cloth merchants to book stalls to foot ware repairer you will find every thing & pedestrians though all of these! What’s worst is the recent flooring made for this footpath, it’s of ceramic tiling & the person who can walk over it successfully in rains should join gymnastics for being able to balance him while he walks! And what more is there is a garbage bean right on the footpath before hotel Vaishali & it always over flows making pedestrian to get down in the one way flow of FC road traffic.

All around the Metro cities of our country scene is same, names may get changed is a fact. Encroachments doesn’t mean that something has been permanently erected on the public area it means the area should be free for the public for the purpose it has been made! I think this understanding is what we need to adopt. As I  have made to get down from the footpath at least 70% of the time during my entire walk. When ever we think of our city & its increased pollution & speak many ways to over come them. But what we should do first is focus on what can be done right now with the infrastructure we have available with us! As the wise man has said any where you can go walking but provided you want to feel like going walking any where!

All these things I wouldn’t have been able to ever experience from car, so I thanks to my shoulder injury & get ready to enjoy my cuppa tea with friends!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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