Starting Monday, the Pune traffic police will try out the “one-way route” for a fortnight to decongest the Nal Stop Chowk. With this, the stretch of Karve Road between Nal Stop Junction to SNDT Junction will become a one-way (in that direction) route. Those heading towards Deccan from Paud Road will have to turn left at SNDT Junction and proceed along the Canal Road, which is one-way.
They will have to turn right at Athavale Chowk and proceed to Nal Stop along Law College road, which is also a one-way. Also, Law College road from Athavale Chowk to Prabhat Road Junction in that direction will be one-way. Prabhat Road from Law College road up to Canal Road Junction in that direction as well as Canal Road from Prabhat Road Junction up to Athavale Chowk in that direction will become one-way.
“It’s a measure we are taking to decongest the Nal Stop Chowk and based on our observation, we think this move will bring in some relief,” said Ashok Morale, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic. He said the department will observe how the plan works and collect feedback from people travelling on these stretches.
“We will take a final decision regarding this after June 23,” said Morale. City-based activists are not amused by the plan and have serious apprehensions about the plan.
“We do appreciate that the proactive steps planned by the Traffic Police are definitely with the sincere intention of traffic improvements in the congested Karve Road-Nal Stop-Law College road areas.
However, though the scheme appears to be conceptually workable, we have highlighted our concerns… We have serious apprehensions about the possible adverse impacts on overall road safety for all road users, with school children, pedestrians, cyclists and even two-wheeler riders being most vulnerable. We urge the Traffic Police to put the proposed plan on hold and review it on the basis of above considerations before taking final decision for implementation,” said Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrian First.
Activists raise objections
The Pedestrians First said there are several schools in the vicinity of SNDT Junction and Canal Road. “Thousands of school children (on foot, bicycles, in school transport vehicles and parents’ vehicles) make extensive use of the road for commuting to school. With the entire traffic on Karve Road being diverted to the Canal Road, which sees continuous vehicular movement (including buses), safety of thousands of school children could get compromised,” said Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrians First.
The Pedestrians First said SNDT University’s main gate is also located at the mouth of the Canal Road. “MSEB’s Kothrud division office is also located right at the beginning of the Canal Road on the left hand side. Consequently there is considerable movement of students, pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles in the area. With the above scenario at the very beginning of the canal road, unsafe conditions are likely to be generated in the SNDT junction area with entire traffic passing on the Canal Road,” said Inamdar.
The Pedestrians First said heavy vehicles (buses) may also find it difficult to turn at certain points – Law college road to Prabhat Road, right turn from Prabhat Road towards Canal road, and right turn at Athavale Chowk from Canal Road towards Nal stop. “This could slow down the traffic movement,” he said.
Law College road will be one way from Athavale Chowk to Prabhat Road junction. “Traffic approaching the Prabhat Road junction from Athavale Chowk will have the entire road width at its disposal. However, the carriageway for the traffic will suddenly become half at the junction as the road beyond will be two way. Also part of the traffic will turn right to Prabhat Road. Re-alignment of traffic in the junction area could lead to cross movement of vehicles and unsafe conditions,” the Pedestrians First said.
Inamdar said it would not be advisable to remove existing signals. “Removing traffic signals will mean continuous traffic flow and hence pedestrians will not get any opportunity to cross road safely. This would greatly increase the danger to their lives,” he added.