Now that the Sunday walking zone on the Mahatma Gandhi Road by the riverside is several weeks old, the inconveniences and benefits of this move are being clearly seen. On the whole, the botheration and hassles far outweigh any benefits to citizens.
This is an arterial road of the city, connecting busy and thickly populated areas on both sides. It is mostly through this main thoroughfare that citizens go to the airport. Besides, there is the ITA auditorium at Machkhowa, a place of immense cultural significance in our contemporary urban landscape. These days, this space, which was buzzing with activity till this ill conceived plan was put in place, has a forlorn look on Sundays because of severe accessibility and parking problems. Since it is located on the road closed to vehicular traffic on Sunday evenings, cultural organisations are in a fix, as their target audiences are finding it very difficult to reach the place.
It is strange indeed that alternative routes were not cleared and made viable before this plan was implemented. There are severe traffic jams on the small lanes that lie parallel to the closed thoroughfare, so much so that people are having many problems reaching the airport on time. In any case, there are quite a few residences, hotels and restaurants along these roads, and the people are suffering.
Worldwide, walking zones are brought into existence only after alternative routes are cleared, and accessibility and parking issues resolved. In any case, these are rarely implemented during peak traffic hours. Early morning would have been a better time for this, rather than the four to ten p.m. slot, which is always a very busy time on that road, even on Sundays.
It is sad that the authorities have come up with a half-baked plan without making a thorough study of the many inconveniences faced by citizens. And instead of taking this easy way out, why have they not planned a proper walking zone along our beautiful river, with a wide promenade and benches? The existing strip is totally inadequate.
It is to be hoped that a review of this situation can be initiated, and action taken based on the results.