State govt. told to undertake survey of footpaths
Expressing concern over inadequate footpaths in Hyderabad roads, Telangana High Court on Thursday instructed the government to undertake a survey of the sidewalks and file detailed affidavits by the departments concerned.
Hearing a PIL plea on absence of pavements in several parts of the city including roads abutting places like the Chief Minister’s official residence, the HC sought complete details on the status of footpaths in the capital. A bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B.Vijaysen Reddy directed the civic authorities and police to take steps ensuring all the sidewalks were free of illegal occupation by hawkers or others.
Making it clear that non-compliance of the order would be viewed seriously, the bench sought to know areas where sidewalks were occupied by vendors and others and how many of them were cleared. The bench also wanted information on which roads, footpaths had disappeared and attempts made to rebuild them.
A lawyer Mamidala Thirumal Rao, party-in person in the plea, told the court that the authorities failed to follow the specifications and standards prescribed by Institute of Urban Transport of Union of India. Majority of the footpaths were built contrary to those standards and this was arbitrary and illegal, he said. He requested the bench to appoint a high-level technical committee to inspect ‘irregularities in construction of footpaths’.
Eliciting information on the status of sidewalks in the city, the CJ asked “if the vendors occupying the pavements were recorded” by the authorities. Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy recalled that city roads used to have 10-ft wide footpaths a few decades ago. They got shrunk to 5 -ft and eventually disappeared completely in some places, he said.
Wondering whether the authorities wanted people to walk in the air, the CJ observed that inadequate pavements would encourage jay-walking. Justice Vijaysen Reddy observed that Metro Rail occupied 20% of the road space and this indirectly could have led to shrinking of footpaths.
Noting that the matter needed to be monitored by the court, the bench posted it to April 15 for next hearing.