‘Some traders, motorists unlawfully enjoying right of way of public roads at the cost of rights enjoyed by pedestrians’
Faced with flak from a section of traders and road users over renovation of footpaths as part of efforts to develop five arterial roads as smart roads, Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML) has asserted that footpaths and drains were rebuilt as part of a smart road design, and creating walkable localities is one of the key features of smart cities.
In this, great thrust is given to develop space for pedestrians and non-motorised transport (NMT), in keeping with global trends. The road network is being created or refurbished not only for vehicles, but also for pedestrians and cyclists. Footpaths are being developed after clearing all encroachments. It is true that this redevelopment is disturbing a small section of the public, mainly traders and motorists who were unlawfully enjoying the right of way (ROW) of public roads, at the cost of rights enjoyed by pedestrians, said Jafar Malik, CEO of CSML.
On allegations that the slope of a drain on DH Road was unscientifically altered, CSML sources said that all designs were part of the tender drawings and no alteration was made. A trader complained that the footpath in front of his shop was raised by around four inches, and that cars cannot park in front of the shop. This was needed because of streamlining the road level. There is need to curb unauthorised parking of vehicles, including on footpaths and on narrow roads, they added.
“Generally, we don’t disturb the existing flow of drainage water. In locations where it is possible to reverse the flow, we designed it. We did this for drains starting from the High Court Junction to Market Canal and created a bypass drain to the existing drains from Menaka to Market Canal along Shanmugham Road. This proved effective during the last monsoon when most arterial roads except this stretch, were inundated.”
“We do profile correction of all smart roads and wherever possible in other roads also. It is done in longitudinal direction, where existing undulations are corrected, to ensure a smooth driving surface. This may create increase in level at some areas, which is unavoidable. We keep the centre line level almost the same, but sides may be increased or decreased to correct the camber. This also may increase the level of the road kerb at some locations. Problems arise when shops abut roads, without any front setback. But we make sure that possible mitigations measures are done to prevent flood water entering their premises,” the sources said.
On issues involving coordination with different agencies while developing smart city works, Mr. Malik said works are done in brown-field area. “Very often, there is delay in obtaining permission from owner agencies to redirect utilities which hamper safe and smooth movement of pedestrians and vehicles. This often delays many of our works. Agencies like KWA insist that their work must be done by their approved contractors. There have been instances of contractors delaying works to create more work for them. All this led to some works suffering delay,” he added.