In part 1 of this article, we saw the the various types of encroachments that hinder pedestrian mobility. Here we take a look at what is involved in finding a solution.
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Ward level staff will not be able to deal with these different types of encroachment without a sound operational framework and good training.
The best starting point could be an official mission statement. This should emphasise that provision of encroachment-free pavements for pedestrians is an essential measure of public safety. It is not only pedestrians who will benefit, but it can go a good way towards making driving less stressful.
It will be best to take up a stretch of road, or an area comprising smaller roads, as a sub-project. The authorities can adopt the following procedure:
- Survey the area, and prepare a comprehensive list of encroachments, detailing the types. In this effort help should be sought from residents or other stake-holders, as some types of encroachment occur over parts of the day, or at certain times of the year.
- Decide how to deal with each of the encroachments. This should follow a manual that should have been prepared at the start of the mission, stating the policy framework and providing rules/guidelines on how to implement them on the ground. (This is discussed further below.)
- Meet every ‘party’ causing an encroachment, where relevant, and negotiate a time frame for remedying it. It will be a good idea to enroll a set of volunteers from the community who can help in initiating a dialogue and settling the matter cordially. The weight of authority will have to be invoked if necessary, and senior ward officers will need to be involved at that stage.
- Monitor removal of the encroachments, and step in when necessary to ensure implementation.
- Arrangements should be made for effective monitoring on a continuous basis to see that new encroachments do not come up.
Decisions on how to deal with the variety of encroachments can be taken only against a well-prepared set of policies and guidelines for applying them. The policy framework could be fleshed out from the ‘skeleton’ below.
- The objective, in the short range, is to provide clean, convenient walkways for pedestrians, so that they will not be required to walk on the road paving which is meant for vehicular traffic, causing risk to themselves and hazards to vehicular traffic.
- In line with the responsibility of our society to provide for the handicapped, over the long range, pavements will be upgraded to provide for smooth passage to people in wheelchairs.
- No activity that causes hindrance and creates dangerous conditions on the pedestrian walkway should be permitted. (For example, water flowing out on to the walkway, or oil spots caused by repair or maintenance activities.)
- Recognising the reality that some encroachments, and some encroaching activities, will need time for removal, time can be given for remedying/stopping them. An agreement will be made with the ‘offending party’ setting out the time within which the encroachment/activity will cease, and levying a penalty for the intervening period.
- n cases where there is no clear ‘offending party’ the concerned municipal ward or police station will be given the responsibility to remove/regulate such encroachments.
The guidelines should take each type of encroachment, and detail how to deal with it. The ward staff should have a manual of these guidelines to help them handle the situation on the ground. It should stress that community support will be essential for taking effective action and ensuring that the problems do not arise again. A humane approach needs to be adopted, but it should be backed by willingness to resort to authority if necessary. If ward staff are seen to be committed to the objectives, that will enthuse the community to participate.
Ward offices will not be able to deal with the problem competently without training on well-developed approaches. It is necessary to undertake pilot exercises at selected locations, with help from NGOs or individual consultants, so that promising approaches can be tested. Proven approaches should be incorporated into training material, and ward staff given training in the methods. As mentioned earlier, support from top BBMP officers, and the political establishment, will also be necessary to enable ward staff to implement the programme.
I live on 2nd Main, Vyalikaval, which has broad pavements provided by town planners of yesteryear. Over the years almost all the types of encroachment listed above have developed. The footpath on one side has become almost dysfunctional, having been encroached upon by commercial establishments, and even public sector banks. The footpaths on the stretch of this road from the Police Station to Bhashyam Circle can still be reclaimed with determined effort. This could well serve as a pilot area for testing approaches.
Recently the BBMP has declared an intention to associate trader associations with developing and maintaining parking areas near important commercial centres. It is essential that adequate arrangements for pedestrian movement be part of the project. Anybody entrusted with such an effort should have an adequate representation from the local residential community.
A collaboration between commercial interests and residents for the benefit of the neighbourhood could be a very good thing if nurtured. It should be ensured that the residential community can appeal to senior municipal and police officials if there is any apprehension that the community’s interests are likely to be overridden. ⊕