Sadar Bazar pedestrian trial helps Gurugram bag award

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Sadar Bazar pedestrian trial helps Gurugram bag award
© Provided by Hindustan Times On March 20 last year, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram had attempted to turn a 600-metre stretch of the main Sadar Bazar market, between Jama Masjid and old post office, into a pedestrian-friendly one. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Gurugram has been included among the top 11 awardees in the Streets4People Challenge — a central government initiative to make city streets pedestrian-friendly — for its pedestrian-only trial conducted at Sadar Bazar in March last year.

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Of the 38 cities that submitted a pedestrian-friendly proposal, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs announced the top 11 award winners, which include Gurugram, in an online programme on Monday.

On March 20 last year, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) had attempted to turn a 600-metre stretch of the main Sadar Bazar market, between Jama Masjid and old post office, into a pedestrian-friendly one. The vehicle-free trial was meant to last for a week, however, heavy protests by shopkeepers led to the MCG making major changes in the trial. Within an hour of the trial, the MCG had reversed its main standout point — preventing the entry of vehicles into the market area.

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Despite the trial’s failure, the MCG’s pedestrian-friendly concept for Sadar Bazar market and the adjacent government school area helped Gurugram win the first phase of the challenge, along with the cities such as Kohima, Kochi, Bengaluru, Nagpur, Pune, and Udaipur.

“The focus of the challenge was to come up with a proposal, and later, implement it on ground. The success of the implementation was not a primary factor. It was largely limited to the conceptualising of it. Hence, Gurugram was included in the list of awardees despite the trial being unsuccessful,” said a senior MCG official.

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The MCG additional commissioner, Dr Vaishali Sharma, said that the challenge is aligned with the National Transport Policy 2006 and for this, the civic body conducted a transformation trial of the entire 21 hectares commercial space of Sadar Bazar area by fully pedestrianising the main 600-metre road of the market.

The Streets4People Challenge was launched by the central government in 2020. The criteria for the challenge includes formulating designs that can be executed in quick time, are cost-efficient, and address key pedestrian-friendly parameters such as adequate space, safety, comfort, while keeping localised needs in mind.

Sharma said that Sadar Bazar, purely a commercial area where 95% of the customers can reach on foot, but only 15 to 20% of the road space is available for them, as it is filled with haphazard parking and vehicular traffic.

“The complete pedestrianisation of the market will provide customers with a safer and comfortable shopping experience, along with the provision of seating, lighting, and venue for hosting cultural activities. Our main objective is to redevelop the main road of Sadar Bazar by making it walkable,” said Sharma.

MCG commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja said that the civic body will further participate in the second phase of the challenge, which focuses on expanding the idea across the city, with permanent implementation and sustained stakeholder participation.

However, Bablu Gupta, president, Sadar Bazar Vyapar Mandal, said that giving the award to Gurugram for Sadar Bazar pedestrian-friendly trial is a complete mistake on behalf of the central government.

“The MCG’s trial was a mere eyewash. They only placed some barricades at entry and exit points, placed a few benches, set up some streetlights, and painted footmarks on road. This does not warrant an award,” said Gupta.

Road safety experts said that replicating a similar concept in other parts of the city cannot be done, as the design of Sadar Bazar is one of its kind in Gurugram. “Instead, using the learnings from the trial, MCG can transform a few streets across the city by integrating pedestrian-friendly measures such as cycle tracks, footpaths along popular public spaces and ensuring equitable share is provided to all road users,” said Sarika Panda Bhatt, a city-based urban planner and road safety expert.

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