Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Street blockages and other city problems in Kolkata
They say that they can transform Kolkata to a city like London. And I say that they are saying wrong. Unless Kolkatans can’t understand the definition or perception of a clean city, then forget about London, we don’t even deserve to call ourselves citizens of a modern metro city like Kolkata.
My office is near Rabindrasadan. Every weekday, I set a journey from Kalamandir bus stop towards Rabindrasadan through Theatre Road, Camac Street. There the streets are meant to be cleaner as many top notch companies are located near Minto Park, Shakespeare Sarani and J. L. Nehru Road. The bricks in the footpath are uneven such that one needs to be careful about s/he can stumble at any moment. But the main discussion is not about footpath bricks. It’s about footpath stalls.
On Shakespeare Sarani, Camac Street and Theatre Road, you can find, Tea Shops, Fruit juice shop, fruit selling shop and plenty of shops selling momos, parathas, samosas, kachori, veg / non-veg foods for your lunch / dinner. These stalls have both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is you can find food at a much cheaper rate than what big restaurants charge. The disadvantage is the food is unhygienic, dishes are not washed properly and foods are cooked / fried using harmful oils.
Major harm these people do is to occupy ½ or 1/3 of the street space such that you can’t walk. There are at least 2-3 passages in the streets mentioned where the passage is one-way. So, naturally two persons can’t walk side by side and lots of collisions happen.
Now, let’s get deeper in to this matter. If a shopkeeper is occupying 2/3 of the road width and his customers are standing in the rest 1/3 of the road width, then how can we walk freely? Then should we walk on the main streets with cars and buses. What is unfortunate is there are many civilized office goers who use the same path for walking as I do. They lack guts to speak against the evil. May be some big executives working at Camac Street have done lots of researches to make the interior decoration of their office to look totally modern, sleek and artistic. Many government employees in Kolkata plan a lot to keep their houses tip-top. But they don’t plan the same thing about their lovely Kolkata streets, or do they? One needs to plan carefully about convenience of pedestrians and street blocking by food stalls.
The ultimate solution can be to create Food Court(s) and rehabilitate the existing stalls there. The government officials from urban development department should walk on different Kolkata streets and should experience the problems that city walkers are facing daily.
Now, I can tell you the story of other stalls also. Near Park streets, Dharamtala, you can find several stalls. One month before, I experienced one incident. One foreigner lady was walking from Calcutta Museum towards Park Street. She was telling her companions that how dirty city Kolkata is. Suddenly, a stall owner “shouted” towards her for a selling purpose. But his approach was so harsh, that the lady seemed had an electric shock (as appeared through her body language). The voice of the shop owner had a mix command and threat like, You have entered his arena and now you are forced to buy from him. Is this the behaviour that “civilized shop owners” of a civilized city are expected to do? What image we are going to promote in front of our traveling brothers and sisters from London, New York or Sydney?
Just forget for a moment about the heaps of garbage and excessive street blocking stalls at the heart of Kolkata. Are not we feeling sad by the stalls serving Corruption as junk food inside our mind? If your mind is not clean, you will accept dirty people blocking your city streets.
So, let’s act together with better thoughts and visualize a cleaner, greener city by taking proper actions.