Friday, Jan 02, 2004
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By J.S. Ifthekhar
The traffic scenario in the old city can be summed up in just one word. Chaotic. What irks you is the mad rush of traffic, the cluttered roads and most importantly the surprise element. Overtaking from the left is a rule rather an exception here. If you think you have figured this out, how about the odd cyclist who emerges like a bolt from the blue trying to squeeze past the maze of traffic.
Getting behind the wheel in these parts is a perilous undertaking. One needs to chalk out the course with the precision of a battle campaign. Cars, scooters, buses, autorickshaws, seven-seaters, tempos, cycles, the occasional cyclerickshaw and pedestrians - all vying for space on the choked road. And plonk in the middle of the road cattle ruminating with contemptuous indifference. It's a real Hobson's choice!
The traffic tantrums start right from the Moazam Jahi Market. There is no peak hour traffic here. It is the same mad rush all through the day. As one moves further up towards Charminar, one needs to brace up for what in local parlance is called bumper-to-bumper traffic. Obviously the road network here has not kept pace with the City's explosive growth.
The new City may boast of some splendid roads but most of the roads in the Old City are a driver's nightmare. Congestion holds the average speed to just 20 kmph. According to one study the highest density of vehicle traffic is between Moazam Jahi Market and Charminar. The Hyderabad Area Transport Study (HATS) 1999 indicates that the traffic volume is more than one lakh vehicles per day on the Afzalgunj-M.J.Market stretch and the Nalgonda chowrasta-Chaderghat stretch. These routes also have the highest two-wheeler traffic. As a result, traffic bottlenecks remain a regular feature here.
The Charminar Pedestriansiation Project (CPP) is touted as an answer not just for protection of the Charminar from vehicular pollution but also for decongestion of the stretch between Patharghatti and Mecca Masjid. But the project is yet to take off in right earnest. However, the diversion of RTC buses and other heavy traffic in the upward direction has brought some relief. The RTC plies a fleet of nearly 2000 buses every day touching the monument. But a semblance of order still eludes. The traffic scene is expected to improve only when the movement of heavy vehicles is stopped in the downward direction also.
The traffic scene on the connecting roads is no better. Roads linking Chatta Bazar-Purani Haveli, Miralam Mandi, Gulzar Houz-Aitebar Chowk, Charminar-Alija Kotla present a chaotic look. The width of the roads here is just 20 to 25 feet. They need to be decongested if the CPP is to be a success.
The presence of grain and vegetable markets also hampers the free flow of traffic. Lack of adequate parking facility further compounds the problem. The parking demand around Charminar is estimated at 3800 spaces for two wheelers and 475 for cars. Sometime back, the authorities virtually launched a hunt for parking lots in the Charminar precincts, but nothing has come out of it. And the traffic muddle continues.
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