Mention Puri and the sight that it evokes is that of a sea of humanity on Grand Road during Rath Yatra. Rest of the time, the road is a picture of chaos and congestion. The first Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) prepared by Ahmedababd-based Centre for Environment Planning and Technology (CEPT) for Puri-Konark has called for a special plan to de-congest “Bada Danda” which is considered one of India’s widest streets.
The road, according to the plan, has potential to emerge as an inviting street for tourists and pilgrims if value addition in terms of street furniture, green areas and segregated hawking zones without affecting traffic can be developed.
The CDP has proposed design interventions which will not only make Grand Road an attractive street for visitors but also for the local business community having taken into account requirements of the road during Rath Yatra. The Rs 20.50-crore plan reveals that road resurfacing and side-drain cleanings need to be carried out along with walkway.
The proposal also looks at creating space for kiosks, parking facilities, street lights, restoration and revitalisation of heritage buildings, mathas and demolition of unsafe buildings.
The Grand Road, as per the CDP, is currently choked because of a host of reasons including multiple intersections, convergence of narrow roads, non-segregation of traffic, absence of dedicated parking space, high encroachment by the hawkers. The epicentre of all activities in Puri town, it is dotted with a number of dharmashalas, hospitals and clinics, shops and vegetable markets.
Since Rath Yatra is most significant factor when it comes to all kinds of planning, the CDP suggests that the proposed street furniture such as kiosks, streetlights and planters should be located beyond 30-metre carriageway which is maintained along the 2.1-km road from Jagannath temple to Gundicha temple. The carriageway has been calculated basing on the total width of the three chariots which is measured at 20 metres.
“Any street furniture in concrete both pre-cast and in-situ should be avoided. These elements would be integral for beautification of Grand road and can be removed during Rath Yatra. The beautification and formalisation of the activities and uses of Grand Road is essential to create a sense of entry to Jagannath temple,” the document says.
The proposed landscape and street furniture could be bolted to the road surface. The CDP reveals that there would be no level difference between the carriageway and footpaths on the road since it may cause obstacle during Rath Yatra leading to accident or stampede.
The carriageway and footpath would be visually segregated by difference in materials. Grand Road would not have any physical divider but will have only markings to designate the division of carriageway.
Regulation of hawker zone and driving lanes for segregation of traffic have also proposed in the CDP which says vending permission should be granted only for religious or tourism related artifacts, while fruits and vegetable vendors must be relocated.