BENGALURU: Murali Krishna (45), a businessman, visits the Shani Temple at Okalipuram Road every Saturday on the advise of his astrologer to overcome some personal troubles. But he rues the troubles other pedestrians face on this road. “They risk their lives when they walk on this stretch,’’ he said, pointing to the footpath that is in pathetic state.
Vatal Nagaraj Road near City Railway Station (Okalipuram entrance) is one of the busiest roads that connects West Bengaluru to the Central, East and Southern parts of the City. People travelling from Vijayanagar, Mahalakshmi Road, Rajajinagar, Nandini Layout and surrounding areas to reach Majestic and other parts of the city take this road. It often gets choked with vehicles. As work on the eight-lane signal-free corridor project is going on, the junction is in a mess.
An attempt to walk along this stretch reveals how dangerous it is for pedestrians. One can barely walk two steps from 5th Main Road in Okalipuram (near Weaver Service Centre of Textile Departent on Vatal Nagaraj Road). The footpath had a huge tree, which also serves as bus stop. To widen the road, BBMP authorities are demolishing a building nearby and the debris is dumped on the footpath in front of RRR Kalyan Mantap. With no space on footpath, pedestrians are forced to walk on the road while vehicles zip beside at a distance of about six inches. “Buses coming from Nandini Layout, Nagarbhavi, Chandra layout and Vijaynagar have to pass this road to reach Kempegowda Bus Station. It is so risky to walk on the road. You never know when a vehicle can hit you,’’ says Munirathna, resident of Mahantma Gandhi Colony.
Drivers of BMTC buses curse pedestrians as they have to apply brakes to avoid hitting people. Just after RRR Kalyan Mantap, there is a railway bridge with no space for pedestrians to walk through. On either side, a narrow sloping structure is used as a footpath. What makes it more risky is the fact that it is dark inside. “Walking on the slope is better than walking on road,’’ feels Diwakar, a resident of Srirampura.
Near the bridge, there is a slum on one side of the road. Earlier, the footpath used to be wide enough, but has now shrunk. Sangeetha (35), a slum dweller, said they are living in dust. “Our house is 50 metres from the road, but there is no virtually footpath as debris has been dumped. I cannot send my kids out to play as they will come directly to the road. The children also suffer due to the dust. In fact, I am returning from visiting a doctor,’’ she said. Shekar, an auto driver who resides in the same area, said they will have to put up with the mess till the infrastructure work is completed.
Okalipuram is part of the eight-lane signal-free corridor project. The work started in June 2015 and was to be completed within a year. In fact, Bengaluru Development Minister K J George had set a deadline of December 2016. But work is going on at a snail’s pace even now. Till it is completed, pedestrians will just have to endure with the nightmare.
More eyes on the ground needed, feels Sangliana
Former DG&IGP and Parliament member H T Sangliana was also a victim of an accident due to poor pavements. Sangliana believes that increased efforts by officials on the ground can help address the issue. Sangliana, a resident of Koramangala, had a fall in October 2016 when he was out for a walk near the National Games Village in Koramangala. A pile of logs were left unattended on the pavement. Sangliana, who tripped on them, had to be hospitalised with a fractured forearm. “The inspection on ground needs to be improved. Officials at the local level ought to keep track of pavement encroachments in association with the police,” he said. Explaining the reason for pavement slabs going missing, Sangliana said they are stolen overnight. “The problem existed even when I was city police commissioner. Thiefs lift and sell the stone slabs.”