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Square peg in round hole

Bhubaneswar, Dec 26: The suggestion of the traffic police to remove the roundabout below the Rajmahal flyover for better traffic management has raised fresh questions about the effectiveness of co-ordinated planning for development projects in the state capital.

The city management group had a brief discussion on the issue last month. Cuttack-Bhubaneswar police, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and the Public Works Department (PWD) conducted a field survey of the place on Monday, but the suggestion related to the roundabout has caused widespread resentment among the public.

A similar decision to make traffic one-way below the Jayadev Vihar flyover on NH-5 has already resulted in a mess. Without proper provision for pedestrians crossing the road and the unscientific construction of the divider has resulted in several accidents near the flyover.

Mahendra Mohanty, president of the Jayadev Vihar Samskrutika Parishad, said: “The divider is like a wall and the police authorities have been changing the diversions nearby causing inconvenience to residents. Had it been a square with a traffic light system, the pedestrians’ movement would have been much easier. The civic authorities and the PWD should remove the barrier immediately.”

Darmaprasad Mishra, president of NH-5 Development Council, a residential area near Jayadev Vihar Square, said: “The divider below the flyover must have caused more than 100 small and major accidents since 2009, but till date a foot overbridge has not come up near the flyover. We need a foot overbridge immediately and the authorities should install a traffic signalling system below the flyover.”

“The placement of the flyover in Rajmahal Square is a wrong decision and it needs to be removed as soon as possible. It seems the authorities have not learnt from their past mistakes. It will lead to a disaster,” said Piyush Ranjan Rout, city-based urban management expert.

Rout said the authorities should learn from their mistakes.

“The state capital was designed in a grid system. Any new development should follow that pattern, not something that does not fit the whole scheme of things.”

Municipal commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra said: “The civic body has not yet given its consent to remove the roundabout under Rajmahal flyover. We are not in favour of any decision without scientific reasoning and cannot blindly follow a decision. There should be a coordinated effort for better planning of the city traffic.”

Mishra said the proposal had been given by the traffic wing of the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar police. “With the growing size and rise in vehicular population, the city now needs qualified traffic consultants. Both the police and PWD engineers need to take help from them for effective traffic and road planning. Numerous alterations, additions and constructions by engineers have already taken place so that the movement of people has been affected and we have to address it.”

Assistant commissioner of police (traffic) Binod Dash said: “The decision to convert the Rajmahal roundabout is for better traffic management as the present situation has caused serious traffic chaos.”

“You can go to Rajmahal Square and find for yourself why such a decision was taken. It was only to ease the traffic load and minimise possible mishaps,” he said.

The Rajmahal flyover has been in the limelight ever since its inauguration because traffic below the flyover is much more than that on top of it.

Famous architect from Mumbai, Hafeez Contractor’s comment on the city seems to be appropriate here.

Contractor, in an interview with The Telegraph on September 15 last year, had said: “For a developing city like Bhubaneswar, an alternative option could be ring roads, underpasses and level differences which are much better ways of transportation than simply widening roads without proper planning.”