Ignoring the protest of city-based architect, Balkrishna Doshi, who designed the Bhadra Plaza, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has decided to open the dedicated pedestrian zone at the Bhadra Plaza to vehicular traffic, a senior BJP leader in the AMC said on Tuesday. The ambitious project to restore and renovate the Bhadra city square in the centre of Ahmedabad’s fortwall, was launched in January 2012 and completed in November 2014. It was planned as a dedicated pedestrian zone and expected to be India’s best city plaza, but now it has been congested with hawkers.
This has forced the AMC to change its originally intended profile. According to the original plan, it was meant to be pedestrians’ delight. No vehicles would be allowed to pass through Bhadra fort front yard which was meant to be restored as a Maidan e Shahi (the royal court yard).
This place was occupied by a nationalised bank and the Karanj police chowky. The two buildings were promptly removed out of the scene, only to be occupied by more hawkers and vendors. The road which was closed to traffic was, however, opened to Taziya procession during Moharram after high-pitch protests.
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After allowing the Tazia procession, vehicles began to ply in the area unchecked, leading to chaos over the last year since the plaza opened. This went on for over a year. In view of this, a few weeks ago the civic authorities had a brainstorming meeting and considered allowing vehicular traffic through the area. Secondly, the number of hawkers has almost doubled occupying prime space in a haphazard manner.
Standing Committee chairman Pravin Patel said the AMC would soon going to open the pedestrian space in the plaza for vehicular traffic. “Otherwise hawkers will occupy open space and make it worse. We have to provide a through traffic movement facility to passing vehicles or else it would lead to more congestion,” Patel said.
But the planners are up in arms against the proposed move of AMC. “The plan was made by me and if it was followed exactly as I had done it, then it would succeed….Today it is all crowded. There is no allocation of hawkers and there is no organisation, that is why it is not looking right,” said noted architect B V Doshi. He said traffic problem was not supposed to be there. There was to be a separate road for them and there would be facilities like electric cars inside the plaza and parking outside the plaza. Asked if it was okay if the AMC allowed vehicular traffic, Doshi disagreed instantly.
“Then it will be completely ruined and I don’t think this will be right. There is no point in having spent so much money,” he said. So far Rs 32 crore has been spent on the project, while a parking project and a foot over bridge project are pending.