BHUBANESWAR: In a bid to promote healthy lifestyle among people and reduce the risk of a host of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, the Health Department has proposed to set up special cycling and walking zones in cities.
Whole road stretches would be declared as cycling and walking zones for a specific time daily or on a fixed day with movement of all vehicles including motorcycles and scooters blocked for safe use by public. The zones would come up in five municipal corporations of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela and Sambalpur soon.
The department has called for a strategic action plan involving the municipal bodies and police to not only provide safe space for the public but also carry out awareness and education campaigns to motivate people to take to healthy activities.
As per the proposal, the municipal corporations and police will decide on designating road stretches in respective cities on a fixed day and time. The roads would be blocked for any vehicular movement for some hours, particularly early in the morning. The road stretches can interchange as per their suitability, sources said.
Lack of physical activity is a major contributor to the alarming increase in non-communicable diseases in the population. The fall out is also quite visible in a State like Odisha where diabetes prevalence is estimated to be between 12 and 16 per cent in urban population while one in three persons suffers from hypertension, that is a potent precursor for cardiac and a vast range of ailments.
There is a direct relationship between physical activity and risk reduction for diabates, heart disease and stroke. The issue also held centre-stage at 68th World Health Assembly, currently underway in Geneva, with a resolution stating that action on NCDs must start with promoting healthy life course with focus on children.
However, a worrying lack of physical activity among majority of the population notwithstanding, safe infrastructure and facilities for promoting healthy activities like cycling and walking are seriously missing in Odisha’s cities.
The Capital city of Bhubaneswar is a glaring example of lopsided strategies as it has not been able to create a safe cycling or walking atmosphere despite having a long dedicated stretch of cycle track. An 8.38 km long track from Raj Bhavan Square to KIIT Square has been constructed since 2008 but it has been taken over by motorcycles and scooters even in the early hours, thanks to lack of enforcement.