Monday, April 5, 2010
The plan to widen a road in the erstwhile princely city of Jamnagar City has mired in controversy, with activists and locals accusing the local civic body of favoring the local builder lobby.
The matter has now reached the Gujarat State Human Rights Commission and the Urban Development authorities.
The Jamnagar Municipal Corporation (JMC) had, in November last year, proposed to widen the road from Havai Chowk to Mandvi Tower to check the traffic problem there. The civic body had invited objections from the people for the Development Plan to widen the road from 15 to 18 meters.
According to the protestors, the Standing Committee of the JMC, in its recent meeting, overruled their objections and decided to go ahead with the plan. Shailesh Mehta, who has objected to the plan, said: “There is no need to widen the road to solve the traffic problem, as it is a result of total mismanagement of resources. If implemented, the plan will affect nearly 1,000 people on both sides of the road and will partly demolish many age-old residential and commercial structures of heritage value.”
Mehta has also approached the Gujarat State Human Rights Commission claiming the development plan is violating his and others’ fundamental rights. Calling it an autocratic and atrocious plan, Mehta has urged the Commission to direct the authorities to scrap the project.
Also, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) — an organisation working extensively for the preservation of heritage in the country — has pitched in and registered its protest against the proposal.
Intach convenor of the Jamnagar chapter, Hershad Kumari, who is a direct descendant of the erstwhile king of Jamnagar state — Jam Ranjitsinh — has written to the Urban Development Department (UDD) to direct the JMC to revise its plan.
In her letter to the UDD, she stated, “What is needed is traffic and parking management, not only on this road (Havai Chowk to Mandvi Tower) but all over Jamnagar.”
Objecting to the demolition plans of JMC and emphasizing the heritage value of the city, she stated: “All this demolition and unplanned exercises are destroying this historic city, which offered us a century ago a prime example of sustainable town planning displacing residents without proper planning or reasoning is offensive and entirely undemocratic. It is only servicing a building lobby.”
Reacting to the objections, Jamnagar Municipal Corporation Commissioner P Swaroop said: “I have received a representation from local merchants against the widening plan. Before finalizing it, I will go to the spot. I cannot say anything on the allegations unless I personally visit the spot.”
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