A drive on the arterial road no. 2, Banjara Hills, towards Hyderabad International Convention Centre, the venue of Global Entrepreneurship Summit-2017, is a breeze. On the freshly-laid smooth ribbon of asphalt, there are no bottlenecks, bumps or potholes.
Walking spaces for pedestrians is a different story altogether. Dozens of work crews are still on their job trying to wedge tiles and create semblance of space for walkers.
On a short stretch of road, there is a showy patch of tactile-paving that can help differently-abled navigate easily with a predictable surface pattern. But after that, it’s the same hop, leap, jump or walk on the road experience for the pedestrians. “We are working to create walking spaces wherever there is no conflict. It’s just a beginning. We are trying to persuade shop owners and residents that good walking spaces will benefit their businesses,” said a Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation official supervising the work. Changes can be seen from the stretch that begins near Panjagutta Graveyard whose walls have been painted in gay colours, but the footpath is just enough for one person and he/she has to dodge electric poles, trees and a toilet while walking on it. A little ahead is the foot-over-bridge and people have to step down from the footpath around the FoB before climbing back onto it. In one stretch of KBR Park, a rock has been painted grey with a red line running on it.
“At least some work is happening and we should be happy about it. But there is no planning. We should not be a city that indulges in overnight beautification for visitors, but makes no effort for tax-paying citizens. Basic issues have to be addressed first. There has to be planning and then execution. I don’t see much planning or thought,” says Shankar Narayan, a city-based architect.
Ironically, on the road closest to HICC, work is yet to begin on the footpaths. While the pots of potted plants have been painted, the park benches have got a new coat of colour, but the footpath is limited to a few metres near the entrance of the venue. Then there are six spiffy new toilets a short walk from the footpath.
The GHMC officials say that the footpath scenario is likely to change with the civic body setting in motion a junction improvement plan for 30 places in the city. “The plan is to create footpaths, pedestrian guardrails and pelican crossings for the safety of pedestrians at different junctions,” said an official.