Aapki Sadak, a neighbourhood initiative, aims at providing better roads and commuting facilities

What is public transportation for? Clearly, for the common man to easily commute from one point to another and at a cheaper price, especially when the cost of fuel has hit the roof. But there is a basic question here: how does one reach, say a Delhi Metro station or a bus stop if one is not living close to it? Many colonies still don’t have adequate Metro feeder buses. And spending money to hire a three-wheeler daily to reach the nearest public transport point can cause a hole in the pocket considering most autorickshaw–wallahs of the city just don’t down their meters.

Looking for an answer to this issue has led to an interesting city initiative called Aapki Sadak. The initiative, funded by Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, is all about improving the streets by making them pedestrian-friendly.

The initiative, which also involves architects and urban designers like Ashok B. Lall Architects, Oasis Designs Incorporated and Sandeep Gandhi Associates and also Innovative Transport Solutions, for now has taken just a few areas — Malviya Nagar, Khirki Extension and Sheikh Sarai in South Delhi.

“The most important thing about this project is that it attempts to engage the residents. More than 50 per cent of the project has been about discussions on design and planning with them,” says Sushma Shetty, a member of the community workshop team who is also associated with Ashok B. Lall Architects.

This is done in two steps. “First, by working with the children of these areas through the medium of theatre and dance. We have a dialogue with them on how they commute to school or use the roads. The next step is design format, where we’ve had eight or nine workshops in the entire neighbourhood so far. Here, we put up drawings of the area and invite residents to come and point out their areas of concern and the possible solutions.”

Based on the suggestions, she says, the architects of the firms are building a conceptual drawing. “This is being done keeping in mind the parking policies and by following all Government guidelines.”

The planners of the project, she adds, “have already started meetings with the relevant Government bodies, to see how much of the conceptualised programme can be implemented in a practical way.”

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