Architecture Indian Police Systemic issues of India Urban Planning

From CG Road, to the commissioners with love

Dear municipal and police commissioner Sirs,

I am tempted to write this as I am just woken up by wonderful music produced by concrete breakers jamming with JCBs on CG Road. With every beat, I can imagine them destroying not just a not-too-old road but also tax-payers’ money.

As our hard-earned money is going down the drain mainly due to the lawless behaviour of us the citizens, there is a bit of poetic justice here, but as masochism can’t be a prescribed state policy, I want to reach out to you.

CG Road was designed around a consultant’s dream. A counter-intuitive idea was experimented with, probably to see if a dash of insanity masquerading as design genius can work in this crazy nation.

But, it led to predictable outcome of producing un-walkable footpaths, wasteful inner driving lane, parking spaces probably inspired by an RTO test aimed solely at failing drivers and a road with one lane constantly clogged by illegal parking. In short, it is a road to learn that human imagination isn’t exactly a tool for deal with reality.

Being the nightmare that CG Road was, I am not questioning the need of redesigning it from the scratch, but I am now worried if you are going to leave it imagination of an urban planner, so I have a few suggestions.

The greatest mistake that gets made in urban planning is that it is treated as a macro process. So, it often ends up being a general global plan like the absurd section that CG Road had which failed miserably to capture local realities.

Urban designing needs a paradigm shift because in its macro form, it is a relic from the past where we had no real ability to deal with micro-data. Today we have skills, machines and maths to deal with huge quantum of data and produce design solutions that can optimise a design even for local kinks.

I request you to accept that we are a nation where law-enforcement is made (and will be) impossible by politicians, so you will have to accommodate for ground realities instead of aiming at changing public behaviour through regulations.

As you are taking a second chance and investing a lot of money, please base your decisions on hard data instead of consultant’s imagination.

Please send data collectors to every building and find out actual user numbers, the parking they need and accept it as part of the problem that the new road will have to solve instead of hoping for a miracle like we did the last time.

It would mean a lot of hard work and a lot more application of mind for each location instead of one standard section we build last time. One way to look at this could be forcing your design decisions all the way into all private plots abutting the road and even the inner lanes, and use every little opportunity that each location has on offer.

One cattle trap on the lane where cows live (will carry on living) or acceptance of valet parking run by goons as a reality and using it as a design aid would be the kind of local micro-planning that will have to be done if you don’t want to waste exchequers’ money yet again.  

The last request is to let the police be first-amongst-the-equals in taking design decisions and AMC do the engineering instead of a consultant dreaming up a “world class design” and police left struggling with doing social engineering to make it work.

My apologies for this open letter, as this is best done over a tea, but I feel that if both of you drink a few teas with each other and sort this out, a lot of our problems will be solved!

– From a citizen who looks at tea-drinking as a great social institution!

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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