Activists reclaim Footpath for pedestrians, oppose roadside tree felling

Udaipur : After losing space to encroachments, illegal shop extensions, vendors and hawkers, pedestrians in Udaipur are losing their walkways as footpaths are being turned into parking slots. Recently, several trees on the Ashok Nagar main road were fell down by the authorities in the drive of road widening. The road edges, in one of the busiest city area, the only solace for pedestrians and people waiting for transportation mode has been claimed away completely while the decades old large shady trees instead of being transplanted elsewhere have been cruelly fell down.

Activists are concerned over the drastically increasing number of vehicles, no areas neither outside busy hospitals, residential or commercial colonies or crowded hubs are spared the horror of  parking. Despite a high volume of pedestrian movement, Udaipur city lacks proper and solid pedestrian infrastructure with only a 4 percent of city road networks having footpaths. ” Three years ago, a Low Carbon Comprehensive Mobility Plan for Udaipur was prepared under the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The report said that although a sizeable trips, i.e. 48 per cent of the total trips, are by walking, only 4 per cent of the city’s road network has footpaths, which are present only on the major roads of the city.

The meagre percent would have been reduced to 1 or 2% presently. Even the available footpaths have widths less than 1.5m, making it inconvenient to walk” Mahesh Sharma, a retired professor and human rights activist expressed his concern. Instead of creating more footpaths, the authorities are on the contrary destroying existing pedestrian walkways and turning them into parking spaces, he added. In a letter to Sidharth Sihag, CEO, Udaipur Smart City project, Sharma condemned the footpath conversion works completed outside collectorate, educational institutions, and several areas in the city. 

” Footpaths in the city are not walkable as they are having uneven surface and even uneven height. Where there is a junction on account of entrance to a property or a road junction, instead of smooth transition down, there are jumps, making them un-walkable. In fact, rarely, one comes across well designed and constructed footpath in any part of the city. Pedestrians either walk on the road or in the sand or mud on the sides of the road, making for a very unpleasant experience. The footpaths are either not lit or inadequately lit, making them unsafe for walking” Dr Megha Bhatnagar, a lecturer at the Dairy Science college here opined. ” Its the duty of the municipality to provide proper pedestrian infrastructre including footpaths, walkways and zebra crossings. But city junctions have no zebra crossings at all making commutation really tiresome and unsafe for  the common man on foot” Bhanupriya Kumawat, another activist claims.

Pics : Several old and large trees were cut down at Ashoknagar main road during the road widening task undertaken here. Footpath too has been destroyed in the course. Activist put a white cloth on some of the trees in order to protest the action. 

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