September 27, 2019
Widely acknowledged since yore as a ‘pedestrians paradise’ Ooty ,one of the oldest hill stations in the country is now a far cry from the envious reputation which it had enjoyed for long.
A common observation even as recent as the 1990s was “No excuse for not walking in Ooty” as the conditions which prevailed here were to a large extent pedestrian friendly.
Tourists,particularly the discerning ones from crowded cities used to enjoy walking through the town and its suburbs more than visit places like the Government Botanical Garden,the Ooty lake,Doddabetta peak and Pykara which have been designated as tourist spots.
Along with the tourists many of the locals also preferred to go about their daily routine on foot.It helped them to not only get their job done but also return to their homes refreshed.
Alas things have changed so much over the past decade or so that pedestrians are now feeling like second class citizens. The most glaring ‘insult’ to the pedestrians is the gross misuse of footpaths including those along the main roads.Until a few years ago the practice of road side hawkers was to bring their wares on push carts in the morning and wheel them away in the evening.However now the push carts have become ubiquitous with the hawkers stationing them permanently on the footpaths and along road margins. This has forced the pedestrians to share the roads with speeding vehicles.Making matters worse is the huge increase in the number of vehicles and acute shortage of parking space.
Speaking to The Covai Post observers said that the pedestrian walks should be kept free of encroachments and prevented from being misused.
Traffic hindrances like hoardings should be removed.
The civic administration should ensure that the footpaths are maintained properly.
They lamented that on the one hand this popular vacation destination lacked a permanent traffic management plan and on the other even the temporary piecemeal measures resorted to by the police now and then to tackle traffic-related problems do not give any importance to the pedestrians.
Though organizations like the Nilgiris Chamber of Commerce and Industry have off and on expressed serious concern over the growing misuse of footpaths in this hill station which attracts about 35 lakh tourists every year,nothing tangible has been done so far.
The deplorable condition of footpaths was high on the list of shortcomings pointed out by tourists. The sorry state of affairs reflected a lack of concern on the part of the municipality for the pedestrians.