City’s footpaths in a shambles
   Date :29-Sep-2021

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 Whither footpath? The transformer erected on footpath near Rahate Square blocking the actual purpose of footpath. (Pic by Anil Futane)
Staff Reporter :
Footpaths are an important aspect of the urban life. From the safety point of view of pedestrians its necessity is understood world over and in city particularly the rising cases of run over of walkers also underscored their importance. Yet in second capital of State, footpaths are sort of a luxury, as at majority of places they are in shambles making the task of using the same challenging for citizens. Or simply said, using the footpaths could be akin to taking part in an obstacle race as they are either liberally used by authorities to affix utilities ignoring the fact they are meant for use by the pedestrians. Maybe officially the officials are against the idea of footpath for pedestrians in the city. While, in developed countries, the footpaths are perfectly aligned with the road network, in city however Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) seems to have left it to mercy of local contractors the design element particularly, as one rarely finds symmetry in alignment of footpaths.

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At majority of roads the footpaths have been rendered useless as the paver tiles are broken and authorities seemed unmoved by the sight. To make matters more complicated the road network in city is divided among the several Government agencies, the National Highway, the State's Public Works Department (PWD) and then Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) and not to be left out the NMC. And with little or no co-ordination among these agencies, the end result is total absence of uniformity in design of footpaths, while the task of maintenance it seems is farfetched idea to these agencies. In market place and busy arterial roads either the footpath do not exits or they have been gobbled up either by encroachers or by shopkeepers themselves who spread out various items for display. No wonder then the poor pedestrian is forced onto road and exposes himself to unforeseen dangers. But then who cares! Talk to Nagpurians who regularly walk down for various chores and they say walking on the footpaths in city these days is akin to walking in a blind alley as one does not know at which place some obstacle, some missing manhole cover, or broken tiles or a totally broken portion would be encountered.
So for the citizens the only recourse is using the carriageway and no wonder then the city has reported substantial fatalities due to rash driving where the walker does not have any semblance of security. A slight mistake on part of vehicle driver and the pedestrians is going to be the first casualty. For citizens it is a sort of Catch-22 situation, using the footpath is voluntarily endangering one's life and using carriageway for walking is equally risk. In either scenario, the citizens do not have any choice, as their destiny is dictated by the planners with absolute or zero accountability. The missing manholes on the footpath are the most pertinent danger for which no corrective action is seen. Only at some places the footpaths are neatly aligned but due to uneven ground and unnecessary high gap between road and footpath and lack of thorough connective people avoids using the same.
Though a good part of city's landscape is its wide roads and properly designed footpaths would have ensured its widespread use. But in present set of thing, footpath maintenance is no one's business and those that exists seem to be an apology given their appalling conditions. Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) spent crores in beating the city and construction of footpaths on either side of roads that enables keeping the carriageway free for vehicular movement. But this important point seems to have been forgotten by city planners or the elected representatives.