Road Rot

What’s supposed to be inviting, is actually driving away people

Encroachments on service lane at BMC Chowk is defacing city’s cultural hub

What’s supposed to be inviting, is actually driving away people

The service lane at BMC Chowk is in poor condition. Sarabjit Singh

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 21

A plush commercial complex, a posh hotel, a handful of high-end cafes, the Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Hall, the Hans Raj Stadium, the district library and the Virsa Vihar are all lined up on a single street in Jalandhar. This service lane leading to an uptown residential colony, which hosts the topmost officials, is city’s cultural hub.

While one would imagine a decent and smooth path leading through such a opulent area, the actual road through this historic cultural centre of Jalandhar is completely opposite of that. Artists, writers, intellectuals and eminent politicians gather frequently here – only to be annoyed due to the pathetic condition of the stretch and nuisance of parking vehicles.

Most of these buildings of repute are hidden by a line of cars which remain parked outside them 24x7. Potholed, puddles strewn around in the monsoons and choked by hundreds of cars illegally parked on it sums up the story of the service lane at the BMC chowk here. The authorities of most of these establishments have run out of number of times the issue has been taken up with the administration.

The Virsa Vihar's gate is reduced to a place where people relieve themselves. We have ambitious plans to uplift the space to the next level. We have tried drawing murals across the boundary, but the dhaba owner won’t budge.  —Prof Basudeb Biswas, Sculptor

While the Yadgaar hall, Hansraj stadium and Virsa Vihar have reasonable parking spaces on crowded days, it is a mammoth task to get the vehicle up to their gates. A huge electricity tower erected right outside the gate of the hall also obstructs bigger vehicles. Further up, the car bazaar and the following taxi stands park their myriad of vehicles totally blocking the lane. One just cannot drive straight to the Virsa Vihar from the hall. Similarly choked are the entrances to the stadium, the way to the residential colony and the library.

Amolak Singh, cultural convenor of the Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Committee, says, “Our entire entrances have been eaten up by these parked vehicles. Flex announcing future programmes are obscured by huge vehicles. The footpath has disappeared beneath dhaba and plinths spread by car bazaars. Many a time vehicles spread out to GT Road. Where can people park their vehicles? This road is totally claimed by the cars and taxis from the stand. These vehicles stand 24x7 denying anyone else decent space. Even our boundary is claimed by dhabas and vehicles.

A newcomer has trouble finding where the hall is.” Capt (retd) Inderjit Singh Dhami, secretary, Virsa Vihar, says, “This street symbolises Jalandhar’s culture and heritage. The service lane was made especially to provide an approach road to DC’s residence. But right now, it’s an absolute mess. There have been several attempts to make them leave but all in vain. We have personally removed the food stall, dhaba etc owners but they keep coming back.” The Virsa Vihar is supposed to be a beautiful cultural hub; the very entrance should be calling visitors. All these kiosks and stands must be moved to an alternate space for this area to breathe.

Artiste, sculptor, Prof Basudeb Biswas, says, “The Virsa Vihar’s gate is reduced to a place where people relieve themselves. We have ambitious plans to uplift the space to the next level. We have tried drawing murals across the boundary but the dhaba owner won’t budge. Now, more have joined. More than the establishment itself, taxi stand has become the identifier.”

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