GUWAHATI, Aug 22 � For 70-plus Golok Chandra Das, it is a nightmare that he endures every time he sets foot in Guwahati. Dependent on city buses to commute in the city, the senior citizen from Nalbari finds the streets almost impossible to negotiate. He is scared more than others for he had the experience of falling into a manhole while walking on the footpath.
For Asma, a young lady who works as a teacher, the situation is no less forbidding. She waits patiently for a long time every time she has to cross the busy MG Road at Pan Bazar. She has witnessed a road accident in which a middle-aged man survived an accident at the spot where hundreds of commuters have to cross over.
She wonders why foot overbridges cannot be constructed on busy roads like MG Road, GNB Road or GS Road to make life safe for pedestrians.
They are not lone voices in and around Guwahati, who believe that the city authorities are immune to the needs of pedestrians. �The city has grown manifold recently, but some of the most fundamental amenities have not grown,� said Monoj Tamuly a businessman. Many would agree that the municipal authorities have lost sight of the needs of the common person who chooses to walk on the roads and by-lanes of the city.
Many of the pavements of the city have been occupied by roadside vendors, whose presence is overlooked by the authorities concerned. The busy road that connects Bharalumukh to Fatasil Ambari is taken over by vegetable vendors every Sunday, and walkers have invariably to get on the road that is already congested with vehicles. On weekdays when they are absent, rotting garbage becomes an eyesore on the same spots.
�Sometime back the local residents had complained about the illegal takeover of the pavements, but nothing happened,� said Jayanta Das, who frequently travels on the route.
Similar scenes have been seen in Fancy Bazar and parts of Paltan Bazar where pavements have been occupied by people to make an earning. From shops selling trinkets to stalls vending low-cost food items, illegal occupants have been making money at the cost of the hapless pedestrians.
Many of the footpaths of the city are the result of poor quality construction work, and most have uneven surfaces posing danger to the walkers. Although beautification of some footpaths like the one in front of Handique College have been done, most footpaths are in a shoddy state due to lack of maintenance.
The lack of streetlighting in many localities has also been perennial hurdles for pedestrians. Even in old neighbourhoods like Uzan Bazar and Pan Bazar, there are stretches walkers have to avoid at night due to absence of streetlights.