For the residents of Malkajgiri, the impending closure of AOC roads to civilian traffic starting from March 10, means navigating through narrow and congested roads of Gouthamnagar, Tukaram Gate to reach Secunderabad. While the Army officials cite several reasons to ban the civilian traffic, residents of Safilguda and adjoining areas believe that the closure would impact people of all age groups adversely.
Says Sarita Devi, a mother of two school-going children, ‘’The AOC road got its significance because there are many schools in and around Patny. Many women drop their kids on their own vehicles and they find it easy to travel through this road. One cannot imagine driving through Tukaram gate in the peak hours, it’s a major bottleneck.”
Even as the residents and commuters were voicing their opposition to the Army’s decision, the Army personnel on Monday were seen installing barricades at Wellington Enclave, Mornington Road and near Siva temple. Besides, make-shift camps were set-up at Siva temple near Safilguda gate and near Kendriya Vidyalaya at Ramakrishnapuram to put vigil.
Many IT professionals who use these roads to reach far flung areas like Hi-tech City feel that not only the Army roads help them to cut short the distance but it is also safest road. ‘’I travel about 25-30 km daily to reach my office in Madhapur. When I travel back to my place after 10 p.m. through this road, I would never feel scared as it is the safest route. Never were there any mischievous incidents reported in these areas due to Army security. On the other hand, using the other roads not only means taking a round-about but I am scared of miscreants,” points out a woman IT employee.
Although there are not too many hawkers on the Safilguda-Picket stretch, the closure is likely to hit the business of the petty vendors. ‘’I came to know about the closure of roads when some people were protesting nearby. Earlier, I was selling fruits near Safilguda lake park entrance and the police have asked me to move away and cited traffic problem. For the last two years, I have been selling fruits on this AOC stretch. I do not know where do I go now,” says Mukesh, a fruit-seller from Bihar.
Meanwhile, the residents of Goutham Nagar, likely to become an alternative route, are worried about the pollution likely to increase. ‘’Ours is a colony road and it is residential area and never it was considered as an arterial road. The civic bodies should come to an arrangement with the Army officials to allow civilians for another two to three years when they can take measures to find out some other alternative roads,” a resident of Goutham Nagar says.