Sunday, November 06, 2011

Hawkers Plaza

There are some places in Pune that people from outside Pune love to hate. Like the पेठ areas. सोमवार, मंगळवार, बुधवार, ..., रविवार, गंज, नारायण, सदाशिव (Yes, the last name is in bold. This will suffice.). Why? The roads are too small, the people are too many, its all just too chaotic. The अस्सल पुणेकर on the other hand, not only loves these areas, but does not consider anything else as the real Pune (खरं पुणं लकडी पुलापाशी सुरु होऊन तळ्यातल्या गणपतीपाशी संपते ! कसे?).

The critique of these non-resident Punekars (:P) is not entirely incorrect. Yes the roads are too narrow (Not much we can do about them. Unless you want to tear down Vishrambaug Wada to widen Bajirao Road. Not a good idea.). Yes the traffic is utterly chaotic (this, we can certainly improve). Hence i was elated when i read that they are planning to implement a 'No Vehicle' zone and one-ways on few of the roads, in this central business district (seems more stylish now, don't it?) of Pune.

I was at the breakfast table reading this news and my Dad walks in. He has been working in this area all his life so i quickly splurt out the good news. His exact response being "Pedestrian Plaza कसला, Hawkers Plaza करून ठेवतील लेकाचे ! Scheme बंद पडेल थोड्या दिवसात आणि hawkers तसेच राहातील. मं आत्ता आहे ते काय वाईट आहे?" I was a bit stunned and very much dismayed by his cynicism. Why can't he be a little more optimistic? After all this is the corruption-fighting, formula 1-racing, 8% growth-maintaining young new India that we are talking about here.

But he is most probably right. Look at what happened to MG Road back then (when i was in school perhaps). Look at what is happening to FC Road right now, as we speak.

The road was turned into a one-way street. Good thing. The footpaths were widened. Excellent thing. One enterprising young fella thought of selling pani-puri on this nice big footpath. He did brisk business. When the police, anti-encroachment guys came along, he didn't mind sharing his profit. A hundred more book-sellers, chocolate toast vendors and juice sellers joined him. Now, good thing or bad thing?

If you ask me, i enjoy the tasty (and unhygienic) food and the cheap books they sell. As long as they sell, most people will buy. Plus i am young enough to dodge cars and jump over pot holes when the footpaths are occupied by these stalls. But what about my आजोबा and आजी? Well, who cares :(

It also seems a bit unfair to evict the street vendors once they are entrenched (not that its possible anyways). So the solution is not to allow any encroachment of footpaths in the first place. But are the authorities serious enough about this? Ofcourse not!

Update: Not sure if this is good news or bad news, but the thing is cancelled for now.

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