Ganesh pandals eat into footpaths

Pedestrians Suffer As Civic Body Ignores Encroachments

The civic body’s muchtouted `pedestrian policy’ has gone haywire barely a month after it was approved.Footpaths, which were already heavily encroached upon, are now further blocked by Ganapati mandals, posing a huge risk to pedestrians and vehicle users alike.

Last month, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had approved the police, with all party corporators vouching to protect the right of citizens to walk.

A vrooming two-wheeler rammed into a senior citizen near Khandojibaba Chowk on Friday while he was walking on the road as there was no space to walk on the footpath, which was teeming with encroachments.

In Peth areas and other interiors of the city , there is no space left to even stand on footpaths as almost all of them are occupied by pandals. Ganesh mandals have put up arches, advertisements and flex boards on footpaths and senior citizens, children and women are at the receiving end.

PMC was supposed to implement the pedestrian policy immediately and the Ganeshotsav celebrations would have been the perfect opportunity to put words into action. However, neither the civic administration nor the elected members are bothered.

In fact, some corporators who approved the policy have their own pandals on footpaths while the civic body’s anti-encroachment department has not initiated any action saying it would create a law and order problem.

“Roads are already congested and traffic is a mess. It seems that Pune has no place for pedestrians. The civic body and police should take action against those who have encroached footpaths. Living in this city is becoming tougher for senior citizens,“ home-maker Rupa Patil said.

“Pedestrians are facing a major problem. The civic body is not acting against mandals which are thriving on political support. All corporators and their supporters have their own mandals which are breaking the rules,“ said M J Joshi, a citybased professional.

Interestingly, the PMC’s policy states, “The vision of the city will be a pedestrian-friendly city with dignity for pedestrians and care for their safety and well-being through the implementation of appropriate policies. The city will have a highquality pedestrian infrastructure with equitable allocation of road space. The roads will have an environment, which will make walking a pleasant experience for all, enhancing the quality of life for citizens and making Pune a liveable city .“

The policy states that such a policy is needed because pedestrians are the most endangered road users and walking on roads has become difficult and hazardous.

PMC’s anti-encroachment department head Sandhya Gagare said that the civic body has issued notices to Ganesh mandals which have floated norms. She said that action will be taken against those mandal officials responsible for creating public nuisance.

Senior citizen Nandkumar Patil lamented on the constantly worsening condition of city roads. He said, “Pune is vying to become a `Smart City’ using world-class technology . But the civic body must first stick to ba sic things like protecting footpaths. Life for pedestrians is becoming more and more difficult, and during festivals, footpaths are free for all types of encroachments. There is nobody to hear the plea of senior citizens, students and women who use footpaths. Many roads don’t have footpaths, and the existing ones are encroached.“

Source : TOI