In recent years, Panjim has become almost impossible to navigate thanks to the amount of traffic on the roads. Most of the roads within the main city area are usually choked with vehicles. Two-way roads do not just have traffic plying but there are vehicles usually parked on both sides, making these roads even narrower. In some cases, like on 18th June road, people will often double-park their vehicles throughout the day. And it’s a similar case at Panjim’s popular Café Bhonsle square. Which is why, there is now a proposal to make this iconic area, a pedestrian-friendly zone.
Café Bhonsle square will soon be ‘pedestrianized’
A meeting was held on Tuesday at the Smart City headquarters with residents and traders from Panjim to back the proposal to turn the Cafe Bhonslé area into a NoMoZo of sorts. However, the meeting was attended by just a few concerned citizens.
As per the proposal, approximately 3,267 square meters of the street is to be turned into a ‘traffic-free pedestrian square’. Additionally, part of three roads connecting to the square, namely the Cine Nacional road, Praca de Igreja and MG Road near the Garcia de Orta will be made two-way. But those that attended the meeting had questions about parking and maintenance of the area that is to be redeveloped.
The proposed redevelopment of Café Bhonsle square
Going by what the proposal shows, a large portion of Cafe Bhonslé square is largely unusable. This is due to the fact that it is full of vehicles, often parked haphazardly along with pedestrians and even traffic constantly moving in the area.
Therefore, the triangular space in the Café Bhonsle square will be pedestrianized and no vehicles will be allowed except at scheduled timings. There will be a shed structure for facilitating activities in the area and canopy light placed over the road.
Additionally, there are plans to put in a new seating arrangement to give visitors to the area a chance to rest. Cylindrical and waist-height hydraulic bollards will be placed at four joints around the square to restrict the entry of vehicles, but these bollards will be timed to allow the traders to take their delivery vehicles in and out in scheduled time.
Attendees voiced their concerns and opinions about the proposal
Mr. Annand Madgavkar, a prominent businessman, raised concern over the parking on the Cine Nacional road once cars are allowed to use it, going in both directions. According to him, the road is already narrow while being one way. He also mentioned that the ‘zebra crossing’ was not manned, making it dangerous for pedestrians to cross the road.
Another gentleman present at the meeting, Mr. Michael Coutinho also voiced his opinion about the proposed plan for the Café Bhonsle square. He said that unless the traffic flow and the parking is monitored properly, this concept would not work the way it is intended to. “The project once gets executed should not be neglected,” he stressed, adding that it was time to start an awareness campaign and get Panjim residents to take responsibility for their city.
Mr. Anish Albuquerque, another resident of Panjim had some suggestions for the officials of the Smart City Mission. He said that first, priority should be given to improving basic infrastructures like roads, street lighting, CCTV coverage, and traffic signals. Mr. Albuquerque was of the opinion that people lack civic and traffic sense, and added that a “strict enforcement and improved infrastructure will only bring the change.”
According to him, redevelopment of gardens and pedestrianization could go into the next phase.
Director of Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd., Siddharth Kuncalienkar responded to all queries and concerns
Director of Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd (IPSCDL) Siddharth Kuncalienkar listened to the concerns of all and then responded. He mentioned that while pedestrianization had never been implemented in the state anywhere before, “it is now high time for us to give a start to such a project.”
Kuncalienkar further said that the parking and mobility plan and also city surveillance system will be covered in separate projects.
“This is an exciting moment for the capital. Our plans will make the area substantially cleaner and safer for everyone, creating one of the finest public spaces,” he added.
CEO of Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd (IPSCDL) Swayandipta Pal Chaudhuri during the meeting revealed a plan for the imposition of traffic restrictions along Café Bhosale road, thereby allowing the congested street to become a pedestrian-priority area.