| Pedestrians cross the road near the flyover off Kalpana Square. Picture by Ashwinee Pati |
Bhubaneswar, Oct. 7: The world celebrated Habitat Day today with focus on urban mobility. But situated miles away from the United Nations headquarters, the city denies its pedestrians obstruction-free footpaths.
Though the purpose of World Habitat Day is to ensure a person’s basic right to adequate shelter, this year the UN wants “accessible cities (to) encourage a shift towards more sustainable modes of transportation… (such as) trains, buses, bike paths, and sidewalks”.
But, the UN mission will remain a distant dream till city footpaths are freed of encroachers.
While furniture and electronic goods traders occupy the stretch at central Bapuji Nagar — starting from Sishu Bhavan Square to Rajmahal, vendors selling plastic products encroach the footpath near the Unit-I market.l
“We are talking a lot about mobility in urban areas, but if we cannot ensure better pedestrian ways then we are not successful in urban planning,’’ said environment activist Bijay Mishra.
Mishra said that by ensuring better footpaths and cycle tracks, pollution could be controlled to ensure a clean and green habitat.
Not only Bapuji Nagar and Unit-I, footpaths in front of Unit-II or Market Building are also getting encroached by nurseries selling saplings, seeds and other garden-based products.
“After several raids we removed encroachments from the footpaths at Unit-II, but there is a need for better coordination with the civic administration and other departments to drive away illegal shop owners,” said assistant commissioner of police (traffic) Binod Das.
Apart from the footpaths in the central market areas in the city, encroachment has become a problem for footpaths along the Janpath near Satyanagar, Jaydev Vihar and many stretches between 120 Battalion and Damana Square.
“Not only encroachment, lack of awareness makes many bikers to use footpaths,” said Pitambar Parida, a resident of Pokhariput.
However, municipal commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra said: “In the past, we had carried out raids on Bapuji Nagar and Unit-I areas to clear footpaths. Now, we are going to include other areas to ensure better mobility on the footpaths.”