Whimsical walking zone decision harasses citizens, admin
The government’s decision on converting MG Road into a walking zone on Sundays was unplanned causing harassment as much to the citizens as to the city authorities. BJP councillor of Ward No 9, Rajkumar Tewari, talking to G Plus said, “I don’t oppose the move but things were not planned turning out to be harassment for many.” He said that the plan was just announced on Saturday and the timing was expected to be from 4 pm to 10 pm on Sunday, but the vehicles coming from Kachari side and Maligaon side were diverted from 1 pm.
A source in the district administration said that on Saturday last, during a press conference, the decision was announced by the GDD Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, and later the officials had to run from pillar to post arranging the walk. The administration had to clean the entire stretch with the help of GMC and even had to arrange some musicians to perform during the walk.
DCP Traffic, Amanjeet Kaur said, “We came to know about it only two days earlier that it is a government decision.” But she also said that as it was a Sunday the traffic was quite thin and after two-three Sundays things will be more settled. The Hem Baruah Road is in a pathetic condition with many potholes creating a slow movement of the diverted traffic. The DCP agreed and said that the road should be repaired or else the diverted traffic movement will not be smooth.
SGBG opposes MG Road walking zone decision
After the government converted a stretch of the Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Road from Sukreshwar Temple to Bharalumukh along the bank of Brahmaputra River into a walking zone on Sundays between 4 pm and 10 pm starting 22nd October 2017, NGO Save Guwahati Build Guwahati (SGBG) slammed the government for the move. Vice President of the body, Ajoy Dutta said, “It is an unprepared and ill-timed decision of the government.”
Dutta said that the government does not know what the condition of Guwahati is and they have no connection with the city. HB Road, from where the traffic coming from Kachari was diverted via Pan Bazar and Fancy Bazar, has become narrower by the day because of the construction works done on the footpaths last year. The footpaths are also occupied by street vendors who keep bribing the unscrupulous officers. Dutta questioned how it was possible to divert a 4-lane traffic onto a single lane road?
Dutta expressed that a few years ago the road between the Judge’s Field and Church Field (Lakhinath Bezbaruah Road) was also blocked to create an underground parking lot and a food court over that. That was the direct road connecting the railway station with the MG Road. But with an unplanned decision of the government, the entire traffic system of the city was disturbed, opined Dutta. He said now the huge army vehicles have to ply on HB Road disturbing the students of Handique Girls’ College and Cotton College.
Meanwhile, contradicting the views of SGBG, former president of the body and present Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) chairman, Dhiren Baruah, backed the move of the government but requested the Guwahati Development Department (GDD) Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, to make the stretch a one-way zone. Baruah firstly said that people require a walking zone to enjoy the view of the Brahmaputra but meanwhile they should not face problems. So the traffic coming from Kachari side can use one side of the MG Road, and the vehicles coming from Maligaon side can be diverted to AT Road.
River bank infrastructure not prepared for a walking zone, feel many
Many people from Fancy Bazar people approved of the move but also accused the government of not developing the infrastructure before announcing it as a tourism spot. Councillor of Ward No 9, Rajkumar Tewari, said that if the government wanted to provide a beautiful view and environment to the pedestrians, the river beautification work should have been at least completed three months prior to the experiment. He said that the bank of the entire stretch looks dirty as it is not regularly cleaned and there is not even proper infrastructure for the visitors. He said, “I don’t know what Congress did but we (BJP) are here for the last one and a half years and should have at least developed the place before announcing it as a walking zone.
Talking about solutions, SGBG vice president, Ajoy Dutta said that if the government wants people to enjoy the view of the Brahmaputra, let them open the stretch of land between the river and the road from Sukleswar Ghat to Bharalumukh. He said that the government should break down the wall and make it similar to Mumbai’s Marine Drive, and should make a green patch from Sukleswar Ghat to Bharalumukh. He also said that if a walking zone is important even the old Fancy Bazar jail can be converted into a walking zone by adding only a few walking tracks with rest remaining the same. No parking lot or any construction is required there, according to him.
Dutta said that some plots of land on the banks are occupied by floating restaurants and some by parks which are not properly used. So everything should be connected and made into a walking zone.
Many residents of Fancy Bazar were also of the view that government should have upgraded the infrastructure before announcing it as a walking zone and the Hem Baruah Road should be repaired. Also, the encroachers should be evicted so that the road is not narrow for traffic movement.
People have also opined that southern side of MG Road could be used for vehicles coming from Kachari side and the other side could be a No Entry.