Friday, February 22, 2008

Hang out, but don’t walk

Fergusson College road is one of the coolest hang out spots in the city. But when it comes to taking a walk, pedestrian movement is severely hampered by the lack of pavements, which are either broken, used as parking place or occupied by revellers

You don’t walk on Fergusson College road. You either drive a vehicle or hire an auto. And, if walk you must, it would be good idea, if you have some mountaineering skills. Other chances are you may not quite make it to your destination. Such is the state of the pavement on the entire length of the road, from Agriculture College gate to the Good Luck chowk. At most places, you do not have any option other than to walk on the road that increases the chances of a hit-and-run scenario.
“Footpath? What are you talking about?” asks a young girl trying to park her two-wheeler in front of Savera restaurant,” F.C. road is a cool place to hang out, why would you go to walk on a footpath?” Valid question indeed!
And yet, those unprivilleged among us, who must walk, this is what you can expect.
The footpath adjacent to the police ground is in a good shape. On the other side of the road, it’s patchy and broken. You see a few centemetre of good sidewalks till you reach hotel Shravan where two flowerpots on the pavement greets you. It’s worse in front of hotel Koyla; there are actually two full grown trees in the middle of the footpath. There are some patches where the path is good. But, there is no way you get there as parked vehicles obstruct your way. The same scenario continues till you reach hotel Lalit Mahal circle.
Here, the footpath chances side. Other the right hand, the pavement runs smoothly till Dnyaneshwar Paduka chowk. On the left, from the HDFC bank all the traces of the pavement vanishes. Where there should have been a footpath, they are now parking places. The same scene continues till you reach Tukaram Paduka chowk. You are forced to do a ‘hurdle walk’ dogding a bumper here, a wheel there as the vehicles are parked haphazardly. As a consolation, on the other side, there is still a pavement, though broken at places and uneven, still, a footpath nonetheless.
You reach Tukaram Paduka chowk, and it’s from the frying pan to the fire. How do you cross this towering inferno of a crossing?
The crossing duely crossed, taking your and those of the murderous vehicles’ own sweet time, you are now in a bigger dilemma. Do you want get into a footpath or rather walk on the crowed road. “I would rather take the road than using the foothpath,” says Sudhakar Ramphule, who visits F.C. road regulary on business purposes. “Making your way through such traffic is dangerous and difficult. But, it’s easier than finding a footpath, then climbing it up where there is one and climbing it down where it’s broken. This trekking is too much.”
Add to that the fact that the road next to the foodpath is chock-o-block with parked vehicles, so much so you may not even find a place to get into the pavement, once you are there, you may not even find a gap to get into the road, until the footpath ends abruptly.
This is more or less the situation till you reach Savera restaurant, and then come to Vaishali. From here to Barista and till Good Luck chowk, you face another problem, the revellers. Walk into this area at any time of the day, and you will see people hanging around the pavement, without the slightest regard for the pedestrains. You would really need their permission to walk.
On the other side, as a silverlining, adjacent to the Fergusson College boundary, the footpath is more or less intact till you reach the British Library. From there again the avalanche of the revellers till you cross the Ranade Institute. After that, the pavement disappears completely.
“It’s surprising that a prime locality in the city, which houses one of the premier education institutes, and leads to so many others, is bereft of a decent pavement,” says student Ujjal Kalita. “Not all who visit F.C. road drive a vehicle. Even the saddest part is that where there is a pavement, that too isn’t maintained properly and no one seems to bother.”
“And, most importanly, we must think of the bigger picture,” Says his friend Pankaj, “Sooner or later, the road will be widened. What will happened to the pavements then. I hope authorities take cognisance to the issue.”

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