PUNE: The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is now rejuvenating the concept of a walking plaza on Laxmi Road-Tulshibaug, which is one of the busiest and most popular shopping areas in the city. The Standing Committee has incorporated the idea in the civic budget 2020-21.
The idea got a boost due to the fact that Laxmi Road already has a huge number of people shopping on foot. Inadequate or sometimes non-existent footpaths, vehicles parked on both sides and various encroachments force shoppers onto the road, thereby slowing down traffic. Excess number of vehicles and proportionately less parking space also leads to haphazard and double parking on the road, further eating into the carriageway and increasing congestion.
WALKING PLAZA ON WEEKEND
“Actually, the idea of a walking plaza on Laxmi Road was introduced in 2011. I again mentioned it in the Standing Committee Budget for 2020-21,” said Committee Chairman Hemant Rasane. He has rejuvenated the idea of walking plaza on Laxmi Road and has allocated Rs 50 lakh for the purpose.
He said, “There are Peshwa-era temples located nearby Laxmi Road, Bajirao Road and Shivaji Road. The area has historical, religious and business background. So, we have decided to introduce a walking plaza on a trial basis. The PMC Road Department conducted a feasibility study with the help of a private company. We will discuss the ideas with all the stakeholders. We will consider it and would start work on walking plaza in a couple of months.”
FEASIBILITY REPORT ALREADY DONE
According to the earlier plan, parking of vehicles will be banned for the entire day on this stretch. The space between Belbaug Chowk and Ganpati Chowk will act as a free parking zone. A shuttle service via mini-buses has also been planned. People can park their vehicles near Omkareshwar temple or surrounding areas and take a bus to the walking plaza. The bus ride would cost Rs 5 per person.
PMC Road Department Executive Engineer Lalit Bode said, “The concept was floated earlier, but never took shape as the road department was considering making the entire road a walking plaza at the time. In 2016, HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt Limited conducted a study and prepared a feasibility report, which was submitted to PMC. However, it has not been executed yet.”
‘IT IS NOT PRACTICAL IDEA’
President of Pune Saraf Association and Managing Director of Ranka Jewellers Fatehchand Ranka said, “It appears easy on paper but difficult to implement. Who will take care of law and order, if an untoward incident happens? There is already slowdown in business. I don’t think it is a practical idea.”
Pointing out that pedestrians have had a tough time on Laxmi Road all these years, Pedestrian First Convener Prashant Inamdar said, “Shopping on Laxmi Road has become unpleasant and tiresome. People have even begun avoiding it now.”
Inamdar added that while a walking plaza was a commendable idea, under the circumstances, it was also an option to prohibit vehicles on Laxmi Road altogether, at least during the festive season. “People will enjoy the freedom of walking and shopping would become enjoyable. The walking plaza will attract more people, which means more business,” he said.