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Laxmi Rd walking plaza crosses political hurdle

Most parties okay with proposal to turn road into no-vehicle zone on weekend if parking taken care of, hawkers resettled
 

Although the implementation of the much discussed walking plaza project at Laxmi Road was postponed by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), most of the major political parties in the city have now expressed their support for the proposal. Party leaders have, however, demanded parking facilities and rehabilitation of legal hawkers before the bustling Laxmi Road is converted into a walking plaza.


Congested: The Laxmi Road is swarming with people and vehicles
especially during festivals. file pic


Earlier, the MNS also announced its support for the walking plaza. BJP MLA Girish Bapat, who is personally looking into the matter, told his party workers to conduct a survey of the area so that the walking plaza is effective.

"The city roads are known for their chaotic traffic; therefore, there will be no harm in supporting the walking plaza on an experimental basis," Bapat said. "But we would suggest that instead of a 24-hour walking plaza, 'no vehicle zone' should be applicable only during rush hours. It would be comfortable for both citizens as well as for merchants."

Bapat added that it was necessary to first make arrangements for parking of vehicles of local residents and the customers visiting the road. As per the original plan, the final draft was to be submitted to the Municipal Commissioner for approval and the walking plaza was to be started by November 12 or 13. It was to continue on an experimental basis for the next three weekends. However, the project was postponed on November 6 as the PMC failed to solve all the problems related to it. 

NCP leader Ankush Kakde said the PMC was trying to appease the merchants on the Laxmi Road, as they were opposed to the project, which was first proposed during Diwali. "The plan was proposed to solve the traffic issues and the inconvenience faced by citizens because of it. It's important to discuss the issue with legal hawkers who will be the ultimate sufferers," said Kakde.

Kakde hinted that it would be more useful if the walking plaza was implemented during festivals. He said his party would support the plan on a trial basis. Shiv Sena leader Sham Deshpande said that there was no other way other than a walking plaza to control the chaotic traffic in the city. "Walking plaza will bring down the pollution level on vehicle-free days," he said. Deshpande said that if vehicle-free zones could be implemented effectively in other cities, then it would not be tough for Puneites too. 

The proposal
The walking plaza is planned from Ganapati Chowk on Laxmi Road to Shagun Chowk on the weekends. Only pedestrians would be allowed in the designated area and vehicles would be banned. 

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