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Times change, road names stay put

A resident hailed an autorickshaw for Mazharul Haque Path but the driver did not know the way, so he agreed to guide him. When they reached, the driver exclaimed: “But, this is Fraser Road.”

Very few in Patna know that Fraser Road has long been renamed Mazharul Haque Path. In fact, even those staying or having shops in the area know it as Fraser Road.

“Sometime back, a passenger asked me to go to Mazharul Path. I didn’t have any clue about the destination and declined. Right then, another passenger asked me to go to the Fraser Road and I agreed. The first passenger convinced me he knew the way and would show the way. Both of them ultimately got off at Fraser Road. I came to know only then that both are the same roads. I have been plying my rickshaw in Patna for 15-20 years but had never known this,” said the autorickshaw driver, Ramesh Kumar.

It is not just with Fraser Road. There are many other major roads in the state capital first named by the British before Independence and later renamed in independent India after, mostly, freedom fighters. But, people continue to call them by their old names, most of the time out of ignorance.

Take the case of Alok Narayan of Beer Chand Patel Path, still better know as Gardiner Road.

He says: “I have been living here since five decades and it has been almost two decades since the name of the road was changed. But a majority of people still know it as Gardiner Road. I once asked a person the reason why the old name sticks. He told me it was easy to pronounce and sounded good. However, the fact remains that the British have long left but we continue taking their names.”

Very few in Patna know that Bailey Road, the most important road in Patna, is now Jawaharlal Nehru Marg. Similarly, Exhibition Road is Braj Kishore Path, Bank Road is B.P. Koirala Marg and Taylor Road is Peer Ali Khan Marg.

Patna Municipal Corporation officials, responsible for displaying road names properly, said their efforts have failed. “It seems people here are not interested in knowing the new names of the roads. The English names being short and catchy are in use for years now. It has become a habit and people don’t want to change it. We had earlier set up boards with names of the new roads but these have been torn down. PMC plans to put up proper signboards soon,” a PMC official said.

Gopal S. Prasad, a guest faculty at Patna Women’s College, said it was a matter of habit. “It’s been 20 years since names of major roads in Patna, including Bailey and Hardinge, were changed but Patnaites continue using the old names. A signboard near A.N. Sinha Institute clearly mentions that the place is Jawaharlal Nehru Marg but I have never heard anyone calling it by any name other than Bailey Road. People are just not interested in the new names.”

Some old-timers feel it was the task of departments to create mass awareness in this field. “Lack of proper advertisement is one reason people continue using the old names. The postal department and courier agencies should take the initiative and start a campaign to ensure use of new names of roads,” Razi Ahmad, general secretary of Gandhi Sangrahalaya, said.

Asked how, he explained: “They maintain a record of new names of Patna’s roads. If a mail they are delivering mentions the address as Exhibition Road, they should correct it by writing the new name (Braj Kishore Path) on the mail,” said Razi.

Patna mayor Afzal Imam admitted Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC), authorised to put up the boards, was not doing its job. “But, within a month, boards will be installed at each road to set the record straight and create public awareness. We are working on this and everything is in the final stages,” Imam told The Telegraph.


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