Ward committees make a start towards walkability, but a long way to go: study

A file photo of a damaged footpath on Bull Temple Road in Bengaluru.

A file photo of a damaged footpath on Bull Temple Road in Bengaluru.

Bengaluru, known for its gardens and lakes, is infamous for its traffic and lack of pedestrian facilities. A walkability survey conducted in five sample wards across the city by Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy has shown pedestrian facilities are abysmally dismal. The survey evaluated footpaths in five wards on four board parameters - accessibility, connectivity, safety and comfort - and scored wards on 100.

While Varthur, a large ward in the outer zone scored zero, Sanjaynagar, a prominent posh locality in North Bengaluru scored two. Banaswadi with a score of 26, Gottigere 17 and R. K. Temple 10, performed relatively better. The survey revealed familiar problems - uneven footpaths, dimly lit streets, encroachments and no barriers to prevent motorists from plying on them. The lack of continuity in pavements is also a safety hazard, especially for senior citizens.

With two months to go for the closure of the financial year, citizens have little time to lobby hard and decide on where the ₹20 lakh allotted to each ward to improve walkability, be used. “Of the ₹60 lakh allotted to each ward committee, a first in the State, we have earmarked ₹20 lakh each for walkability and potholes. Citizens need to participate in ward committees, take localised decisions to prioritize which stretches they will concentrate and revamp,” said Tulasi Maddineni, Special Commissioner (Finance), BBMP, speaking at the Janaagraha event on review of ward committee spending.

Srinivas Alavilli, Head, civic participation, Janaagraha, said many were still not even aware that ₹60 lakh is allotted to ward committees and they can as a community decide how to spend it and that needs to change.

Of the five wards surveyed, many have begun using the allocated funds. For instance, in Gottigere ward, Poongothai, a resident said they made use of the walkability index designed by Janaagraha to identify footpaths that needed immediate attention. They created Google Forms to elicit feedback and suggestions from all residents, while drafting a plan for civic works.

Lalita Mohan from R.K. Temple ward said they zeroed in on two factors to identify where footpath works needs to be taken up - proximity to neighborhood schools and connecting roads to the most used main roads.

While many expressed allocation of ₹20 lakh for a ward was very small, they also acknowledged it was a starting point. “Wards like Varthur are large and ₹60 lakhs is inadequate when it comes to repair and maintenance of assets. We hope that BBMP will allocate more funds that can be utilized by citizens in our ward,” said Jagadish Reddy, of Varthur Rising.

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Printable version | May 24, 2022 9:19:49 pm |