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16082019

Walking in Indian Cities – A Daily Agony for Millions

In India's hierarchy of roadways, its millions of pedestrians are reduced to helpless trundlers. Despite the reality that they constitute the single largest component of commuters, numbering about 45 million, the country’s road networks cater more to the smaller segment of 54-lakh users of cars, jeeps or vans. Consequently, millions of these pedestrians risk their lives every day as they commute along poorly designed roads that expose them to injuries and fatalities, estimated to have cost the nation more than Rs. two lakh crores in 2020.<br/><br/> Making a persuasive case for safe, walkable cities in this article, <b>Geetam Tiwari, Professor, Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Centre, Indian Institute of Technology - Delhi</b>, points out that the major corrective required is to keep the pedestrian in mind when designing roads. This calls for a change from the current motorist-centric networks that have invisibilised the millions of walkers who are in plain sight. <br/><br/> Tiwari also throws the spotlight on inaccessible facilities for pedestrians such as Foot Over Bridges, haphazard motorisation of urban areas, downsides of grade separators, and the lack of understanding of pedestrian behaviour by policy makers. Effective interventions in planning and implementation, and active monitoring with citizen engagement are non-negotiable if India has to create safe, walkable roads that are consistent with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals relating to mobility. Some immediate measures she suggests include implementing "No Free Left Turns" in urban roads and installing roundabouts at the intersections of small towns, while long-term pedestrian-centric plans are conceptualised and put into action with the active engagement of citizens.

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<b>B.V. Acharya, Senior Advocate</b> and one of Karnataka’s eminent lawyers for several decades and five times Advocate General of the State is of the view that the investigating agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), by their conduct, should inspire confidence in the minds of the people.<br/> Acharya who has handled a string of corruption cases including some of them against chief ministers and senior political leaders is of the view that conferment of absolute and unchecked power to the police, the CBI or even the ED is dangerous since it may result in a "police state". <br/> In this interview with <b>S. Rajendran, Senior Fellow, The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy</b>, 85-year-old Acharya who actively practices in the Karnataka High Court says “democracy has survived in our country mainly because of a strong and independent judiciary. However, the situation is different today”. Excerpts:

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