PANAJI: The Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) on Tuesday gave in-principal approval to the Traffic Decongestion Plan for the capital city as prepared by the Charles Correa Foundation, and decided to keep it open for public objections and suggestions before its eventual implementation.
The CCP Commissioner, Mr Sanjit Rodrigues will make a public presentation of the plan for citizens on October 26, at the Central Library hall at 6.30 p.m.
The CCP Commissioner presenting the plan before the councillors during a special meeting held at the Corporation hall said that making all roads in the city unidirectional, that is one way, and implementing pay parking system in the city in tandem with the introduction of Hop-on Hop-off buses would bring the traffic congestion as presently faced by the city, under control.
"The plan envisages introduction of buses in the city, travelling in rapid loops on five routes namely Panaji-Dona Paula-Bambolim-Panaji; Panaji-Altinho-Mala-Jetty-Panaji; Panaji-Bambolim-Taleigao-Bhatulem-Panaji; Panaji-St Inez-Taleigao-Panaji; etc, besides Hop-on Hop-off buses on additional three routes, in all covering eight routes," the CCP Commissioner said, maintaining that the network would form ‘Panaji Metro.’
The plan foresees requirement of 60 buses during the peak hours and 42 buses during regular hours, besides ten microbuses running throughout the day. These buses are expected to transport 50,525 passengers on a daily basis. The frequency of the buses would be 5, 10 and 15 minutes as per the demand. These buses would function from 8 am to 10 pm, in addition to special early morning and late night service.
The plan expects the vehicle owners to park their vehicles at multilevel pay parking facilities, which would come up at the KTC bus stand, Campal parade ground, behind Junta House, at the PWD garage near Don Bosco School, next to jetty wharf, and in the basement of the new municipal market complex that will offer space for 200 cars once the third phase of the market complex is completed.
The CCP Commissioner said that the modalities of the plan are still being worked out and there could be a situation wherein after the vehicle owner parks his vehicle in the pay parking area, would be given a ticket. "This ticket, he can use throughout the day for travelling in various buses around the city, free of cost," he mentioned, adding that this is just one of the possibilities, and other possibilities are being worked out.
The plan has demarcated the entire central zone of Panaji city as Central Business District (CBD), which stretches from the Church Square to the Goa College of Pharmacy. This CBD has been divided into two zones. The first zone will have areas like the 18th June Road, which would be 100 per cent pedestrian-friendly and not allow any vehicle parking, while the second zone will have areas where vehicle owners would be allowed on-street parking at a very high rate. The demarcated pay parking facilities would, however, allow the vehicle owners to park their vehicles at an affordable rate.
Hoping to receive public support for the implementation of the plan, the CCP Commissioner said that the existing conditions of the Panaji city show congested roads and junctions, lack of parking facilities, unfriendly pedestrian environment, inefficient public transport system, and finally, vehicular pollution. "Areas like 18th June Road, M G Road, D B Road running along market area, Church Square and Rua de Ourem are spilling of traffic round-the-clock," he observed, pointing out that once the people start parking their vehicles in various proposed parking facilities, they can walk down to the hotels, restaurants, shops, theatres or market or even take a Hop-on Hop-off bus to reach these places.
As per the plan the on-street parking facility in the CBD area, will allow parking of 1,029 two-wheelers and 776 four-wheelers, while the multilevel pay parking facilities will accommodate large number of vehicles.
Replying to a question from the councillors, Mr Rodrigues said that government offices linked to departments of planning, statistics and evaluation, forests and water resources are all set to be shifted out of the city, and that would further reduce the number of vehicles arriving in the city.
The opposition councillors, however, pointed out that the plan does not discourage the vehicles from arriving in the city, and as long as unlimited vehicles continue to enter the city, the traffic decongestion problem would not find any solution. The former mayor, Mr Yatin Parekh pointed out that shopkeepers, professionals as well as the residents located in the CBD area would not receive the plan favourably, upon which Mr Rodrigues said that he had successfully implemented the bin-less city project, few years back in spite of stiff opposition from some of the citizens.
The plan, subsequently, is expected to be implemented in a phase-wise manner, with the first phase including pedestrianisation, demarcation of street parking, provision of single level parking lot, bus stops, chartered buses and chalking out vehicular movement, all requiring six months. The second phase, which is expected to improve pedestrian environment, provide multilevel parking lots and bus shelters, and finally, acquire and operate buses, will need at least 18 months for its implementation.