Every inch of it is supposed to be a footpath. A place where one can saunter on leisurely without fear of traffic hassles. But the only such pedestrian zone in the city is turning out to be a pipe dream. Nearly 15 years down the line, the Charminar Pedestrianisation Project (CPP) is nowhere near completion. Of course, it is taking shape in bits and pieces, with the result that the impact is not at all felt. Life around the monument is chaotic as ever. Pedestrians still have to fight for space with cars, autorickshaws and two-wheelers. The only relief is that they need not bother about the trundling RTC buses breathing down their necks.
Incidentally, the area around Charminar is the busiest shopping hub in Old City. It is always chock-a-block with crowds – more so during festive seasons when shopping reaches a crescendo. “It would have been such a relief if this area had been made totally traffic-free by now,” says a Ramzan shopper. The GHMC has spent Rs. 100 crore till date on CPP-related civil work, but no road near the monument has been fully pedestrianised. The stretch from Gulzar Houz to Charminar has granite flooring only on one side. The other side could not be paved thanks to litigation. The confusion here must be seen to be believed. The authorities experimented with one-way traffic on the Charminar-Gulzar Houz stretch but gave it up later. Bollards erected on the stretch proved effective in providing relief to pedestrians, but they were removed to allow for Ganesh immersion processions. Grey and pink colour granite flooring on Sardar Mahal Road was done recently for a length of 125 metres. But the road margins remain to be paved. So is the stretch from Sardar Mahal to Lodhi Khan Road. “Now, because of Ramzan rush we can’t pave this road,” says K. Srinivas Rao, who handles CPP in the GHMC.
Granite pavements in Laad Bazar and from Charminar to Makkah Masjid also remain to be done. However, total pedestrianisiation is not possible unless traffic is diverted through the 2.5-km inner ring road. But here again some 15 properties on Panjeshah Road and two on the Mitti-ka-Sher side are stumbling blocks to smooth traffic. The CPP work began to slow down after the Bhagyalaxmi temple row in November last. Officials have no clue when the project will be completed. So bide your time if you want to get an eyeful of Charminar minus honking traffic.
- The Hindu