Footpath notes


The Naga Council Dimapur (NCD) have rightly raised its concern on the ongoing footpath construction works which is being carried out in Dimapur pointing out it has several flaws in the quality and design. That the workmanship is poor and the materials used are of inferior quality, to which the Urban Development Department have made a prompt and a positive reply to better itself and make necessary improvements .Such concern and voicing out by our NGOs is the need of the hour as today our state, despite of being flooded by myriad of uncountable organisations have failed miserably in doing their assigned responsibilities or have fell short of people’s expectations while still many have diverted from their very purpose and intention of why they were formed in the first place. Most NGOs and civil societies today instead of being a watchdog have become lapdogs of powers that be. We hope to see the Naga Council Dimapur take such matters of public concern in the coming days with high expectations. The positive reply by the Urban Development Department is also praiseworthy and we all need to learn from this small gesture between these two concerned bodies. We Nagas have enough of bickering and squabbling on anything and everything. Positive criticisms with positive feedbacks are required greatly in our midst today. After every negativity comes some positivity, the cycle goes on and on and in a modern society various priorities has to be adapted to the changing times, keeping road safety measures in this matter.
The Dimapur Municipal Council for one and the Urban Development on the other have taken up the matter of sidewalks and the footpaths on a war footing around the town immediately since the change of guards took place both in the state as well as in the Municipal set-up took place which is truly laudable.
Modern concept footpaths have become an indispensable part of town and city life too. Of course we can never expect our footpaths in par with highly developed countries when our most basic necessities like good roads or proper supply of electricity are like crying for the moon. But atleast safe and comfortable footpaths to walk upon should be provided to every citizen. Forget about good roads, it seems like a distant Utopian wishful thinking around here because even the footpaths and the sidewalks were in the most dilapidated conditions which posed a very high risk of being injured to the unsuspecting pedestrian and one can be maimed, especially the little children and the school going students or even adults while walking around the town. Broken drain slabs in many areas of the town were in need of urgent repairs or replacements.
Some days ago, even around my locality I witnessed the old broken slabs and drains covered with tiles which looks quite attractive on the outside but pose a high risk for pedestrians as in many instances these old and weak drain covers break and give away injuring the pedestrians or falling inside the drains.There are still many areas in the town where footpath drain covers are found lacking which are proving to be very risky for the public. There are still little stretches of paved pathways which are in dire need of repairs with broken covers, large cracks and gaping holes which are all a pre-prepared out for a readymade death trap or a snare for some serious injury to the unsuspecting pedestrian. Well if not death, certainly a twisted ankle or breaking a bone or two in your body from these worn-out shoddy footpaths of the state’s most fast growing urban sprawl. I believe many of you too must have experienced the same if you are someone who gets down from your cars and sometimes walk around the streets of Dimapur town. Though the town is growing rapidly in terms of high-rise colourful private buildings, glitzy showrooms, latest international eateries, newest models of sleek and sleazy cars and SUVs adding to the town’s ever congestion of the traffic snarls it has miserably failed in terms of providing even the most basic required public utility infrastructures like a proper roadside drainages and footpaths.
What is of more concern in today’s context is the pitiful condition of the broken slabs on the footpaths and in respect to the sanitation aspect too. But even as the glamorous and the flashy showrooms are appearing on every side of the roads it is setting a contrasting backdrop for the garbage thrown into the open portion of the roadside drains.
Due to the big gaps and holes and unrelenting throwing and dumping of wastes by those nearby residents and traders, a considerable amount of wastes makes its way to these drains around the town which as a result remains chocked and water remain stagnant. During the monsoon season there is drainage flood as a result water finds its way into the streets and into people’s homes which is more hazardous to our health and environment. In fact, roadside drains system must be intended to confiscate water efficiently off the road and make it safe for vehicles and other road users besides preventing structural damage to the road. However, the system here is altogether quite different.
It is also to be mentioned that most of the town dwellers or pedestrians normally throw all kinds of wastes in the drains without slabs. Most of the shopkeepers sweep the front portion of their shops and throw away all the dust and dirt into those drains. As a result, drains without slabs are almost packed with garbage with foul odour emanating from it. Here the roadside drains without slabs are being efficiently utilized for dumping rubbish and many take pleasure in dumping all kinds of garbage in the drains. No matter how best the municipal give its effort, there won’t be any desirable change unless we change our way of life. Most of our drains usually get blocked as the garbage thrown in them lead to overflowing of water on the roadsides.
Due to the town’s unplanned arrangements, the new ones and old structural landmarks donning the old town’s landscape have developed on unplanned lines alongside the narrow roads with now no scope for any expansion or broadening the existing narrow roads. Even the little spaces the pedestrians have, one have to squeeze, push and shove through which are occupied by vendors of all kinds and hues. As a result the Dimapur town remains clustered with no remnants of expansions in the existing sidewalks or footpaths. Though we feel pity for the poor footpath vendors who are earning their livelihood by selling their items, occupying all the sidewalks and pavements and the little spaces we have in the footpaths by these vendors have raised a concern for many pedestrians as well as shops too. They should be adjusted to other open spaces like near the state stadium or behind the supermarket where there are enough wide open spaces for them as well as car parking too. It is to be noted that way back in the past, these vendors have been shifted to other places like the NST central workshop near the tata parking but they come back to this clock tower area after sometime. So the same old practice should be checked. Some may feel these footpath vendors are convenient for many people who are busy and saves them time and distance of going to the markets but they are wrong. These vendors cause a lot of congestion on all sides. They cause not only traffic jams but also human jams in these narrow paths. Push, pull and shove seem to be a daily sight especially during the school rush hour.
Its main problem has been that when the Dimapur town was first conceived over centuries ago, perhaps no one had ever visualized that it would one day acquire various distinctions and such important commercial hub and a rising educational centre for the whole state. What has been a shortcoming since the early days are the narrow roads and streets which cannot be widened beyond some limits because solid buildings have been constructed on both sides of the roads. The numerous big upcoming buildings housing trendy outlets with broken slabs of the footpaths in-front of these colossal buildings and upcoming alluring mega structures around the town with the stench portray quite a contrast of how we live. The state’s premier commercial hub, Dimapur has been expanding in fits and starts with discernable developments taking place wherever the roving eye gazes upon but has also much to expect from the denizens concerned. The growing density of population with the rapid urbanisation is increasing by leaps and bounds which needs to be addressed with very proper study and planning.
The DMC and the Urban Development Department despite of their many good works at the same time should use all its resources at hand providing provisional measures to enable people to walk around freely and healthily in a positive atmosphere without the nuisance of some sick smell from those uncovered drains and also without the fear of being injured from those gaping holes and broken slabs of the town’s footpaths and sidewalks. We hope to see a better Dimapur from our new dynamic leader under their visionary leaderships.
Jonah Achumi

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