It’s boom time. The most powerful man on planet earth said all those goody goody things about the country. The GDP growth is impressive and the planners are already dreaming of that double digit. The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index seems to be on the overdrive. The dollars are flowing in and the reserves fattening. The aam aadmi under the shadow of the hand might not be smiling, but there isn’t much of a frown either. All this is reflected in the construction frenzy in urban India (to our planners, observers, strategists and experts India is exclusively urban; no one gives a damn about the country side).
Speedways and flyovers are the hallmark of developmental achievements. Good, pretty good. Home to office will soon be a red-light free zone (no one cares about the red-light areas either). But how do I cross those damned roads with vehicles zipping past at speeds greater than 60 kpmh. Does the average Indian who moves about on his feet, rather than EMI funded wheels have a chance? The flyovers are many, but the pedestrian subways are far too few. No one slows down at zebra crossings. There are no policemen manning the zebra crossings, they’re either busy protecting VIPs or waiting at the traffic intersections for someone to violate some sub-clause, so that they can pocket that some extra.
The roads are barricaded so that people on foot cannot cross them, and if they have to, they will have to travel atleast half a kilometre to find a subway (if luck permits) or the end of the barricade. To add to the woes, the subways remain closed 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM (though the official timings mention 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM). If someone happens to wander on feet late at night or early in the morning, there’s some serious leg work in store.
A footpath, as the name suggests is a path for people travelling on foot. But here in the national capital, it implies space to earn extra dough. No not by the pavement vendors – they are illegal in the eyes of the law – but by the authorised municipal parking contractors. The pavements are packed with parked cars, leaving no space for someone to walk.
In this high speed world of fast lanes, the only place for a pedestrian is in the middle of the road, lying in a pool of gushing red liquid. The speeding vehicles only swerve by. Nobody stops.