By Tiksha Sankhe
I am Dhole Patil Road, generally people refer me as DP road. I don’t exactly remember how I was born but as far as remember I got my name because of prominent personality named Damodar Narayan Dholepatil. I have witnessed many things in my life. I am used by people from residential areas and customers from commercial areas. I am also frequently used by vehicles and pedestrians. Local political parties use me by blocking me so that they can gain name and fame among the people to enhance their chances of getting elected. Sometimes my identity is recognised by the elected representatives. I have often heard residents saying that elected representatives are responsible for my health and my well-being. They are the one who allocate funds and direct the Pune Municipal Corporation towards any problem I may have. Animals, poor people and footpath shops are very close to my heart as they remain with me for a long time.
I come under Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). I have seen eviction of street vendors by PMC, in which many street vendors lose their livelihood and few of them in order to escape, collide with the vehicle and get injured. This hurts me a lot. Also I have witnessed conflict between residents and street vendors. A resident who purchases vegetables from vendor said that “These people should be evicted because they are responsible for congestion”. It confuses me — the residents who purchase vegetables from street vendors, how can the same people have a conflict with them?
The PMC does not take care of me properly except when elections are near. They also only pay attention to the stretch where Smart City developments have been recently done (Picture 1). “Smart city” — I came across this word when i heard one of the residents saying “Ab humare achche din aanewale hai. (Our good days are around the corner).” Last year before constructing the model road, mock run was done in which I was used as a one way and other lane was used by residents to walk. Most of the residents enjoyed this because it became easier for them to walk on the street during peak hours (Picture 2). Many shopkeepers protested this because their land was used for widening the footpath and they weren’t ready for this deal. Also, the hawkers were worried about their livelihood and had no idea where to go. On the other hand residents were happy because they always felt that the footpath was not safe to walk on. Also children got some space to play. Before redesigning of Parihar chowk, some presentations were shown to people by PMC . This stretch was selected by PMC because hawkers were fewer in number, there were no slums and also few residents shared good contacts with elected representatives. Redesigning was a little painful for me because the hawkers were evicted and I had to bear the anger of vehicular people as they had to use one way which caused traffic at peak hours.
Last week some students were interviewing people about ‘Smart Street’ and were clicking my pictures. In one of interviews when one of the resident was asked about her view on smart city, she replied, “Smart city should be livable and should be for the elite, well-educated and well-cultured people. Hawkers and slum dwellers should be evicted as they pollute a city.” When interviewed a cobbler who has worked on the streets for 15 years said, “What is this smart city and for who is it? Where should we go? Why are we being evicted even though we have our own license? We don’t have any right on the street, do we?”
After listening to these interviews I felt very bad as it is creating disparity among the people. I never thought that redesigning of me would lead to this. After one month of renovation I saw that parking issues still persist and congestion during peak hours has intensified.
Now my other part (Ambedkar Chowk) is under construction and slowly and gradually I’ll be fully transformed into a Smart Street. One of the aspects I liked in my redesigning is about the signage. I cannot speak, but signages helps people understand me. I also enjoy how senior citizens use me for their walks and exercises. The beautification work done protects me as well as people from sunlight. I feel proud to say that women feel safe in accessing me because of street lights and also there is an emergency button (Picture 4) located on the poles.
I really don’t know what a smart street is, but if anyone asked me my answer would be that I should be accessible for all, along with equality there should be equity. Tabhi toh achche dino ki umeed kar sakte hai! (Only then can we dream of good days!)
The Winter Institute is a full-fledged 3 credit Course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies conducted in the first year. It is conceived as a platform for interdisciplinary collaborative learning through research and action in the field. The blog series showcases the work, reflections and opinions of the students, and not the Centre.
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