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Street improvements - Problems aplenty

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Urban DevelopmentGovernance

Roads in most Indian cities are a complete mess, literally. When do we see them graduate to some sort of orderliness, if ever ? The reasons for this pathetic state of roads, heavy congestion & poor transport infrastructure are many. Most of us believe that the authorities alone are responsible & lack expertise. However, apart from this, there are many other reasons :

1) City officials are unable to acquire land uniformly throughout a street for maintaining width symmetrically because there are numerous establishments & private parties or individuals that contest such acquisition in courts - army land between Mekhri circle & Rajgopal rd & on ORR on the northwest (near Peenya) are examples, as is the traders agitation along CMH rd.

2) Where roads are of uniform width, 'No Parking' is difficult to enforce or indiscriminate parking is allowed due to the nature of activities on the road, or private vehicles park anyway & usually obstruct movement of traffic - examples are Sampige rd & Margosa rd in Malleswaram, 80ft & 100ft roads in Indiranagar & Koramangala that have numerous retail outlets.

3) Unlike most other citizens abroad, we needlessly place much higher value on existing land assets & refuse to surrender land for public causes, even if well compensated, claiming all sorts of inconveniences. Mechanisms such as TDR have not worked as all citizen associations such as RWAs also lend support to land losers in most cases, even when it is amply clear that land is necessary for public infrastructure development. This is a direct result of too much freedom, excessive liberty to obstruct normal development processes & inefficiencies in the judicial system that permits this & delays development indefinitely.

3) Lane markings & signage on the street surfaces need to be redone almost every year due to tropical, hot weather conditions. Besides, the quality of paint used is poor due to cost considerations.

4) Due to various types of uses, ranging from animal driven carts to heavy /overloaded trucks, damage to road surface is all too common, given that roads laid are of poor quality to start with followed by inefficient methods & corruption in processes to maintain them.

5) Due to misuse such as speeding by most users, speed bumps are the rule rather than the exception on most roads.

6) Encroachment on roads or onto sidewalks is all too common & very hard to control. If serious efforts are made or steps taken to erradicate or limit such violations, they are usually labelled as "high-handedness" or "undemocratic" & a plethora of supporters & allegations surface when there should have been no sympathy for such violators.


On a recent visit to Mangalore, I noted that most main roads are being substantially widened & concretized due to recurring damage each year in monsoons. This pattern of road development is now working successfully there due to efforts by past city corpn commissioners, B L Meena being one of them. comment guidelines

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