by Swatee Jog
In Belgaum, Yes. Just stand at first railway gate between 6 and 8 pm. any day now to see how the three hapless traffic cops run helter skelter to switch off the signals once the railway gate siren starts blowing. It’s a pathetic sight to see traffic signals at a place where vehicles harrumph while making an annoying curve. Cars just don’t bother to wait long after the siren starts blowing, and the train’s horn is heard in the background. It is then that the trio panic and move into action to stop the vehicles, manage the pile up and bring some sense to the chaos. Add to it the speed breakers and swampy roads and it’s a perfect formula for a skid. Amidst all this, vehicles forget the free left rule and pack themselves even on that side of the road.
This brings one to a major question. Is Belgaum really ready for traffic signals at every junction? Why do things meant to ease out problems almost always add to the woes of an already suffering city? A cursory look at what All About Belgaum reported about the yet incomplete projects for the development of Belgaum saddens one by the apathy towards a vibrant city. Seen in light of the immense potential it has, we are ages behind in terms of infrastructure availability. Not the metro or the airport but at least give us decent roads, proper bus stops, regular public transport and drinking water. Belgaum’s industrial area must be one of the top tax payers in the state, but just look around our industrial areas, no signages, no tar roads, no trees and neither is there a public toilet in sight. The new road connecting Goaves to Mahatma Phule Road still doesn’t have a street light. People moonwalk across the road in pitch dark and meek headlights of our two wheelers fail to spot them. Heavy vehicles continue to drive across the city bylanes forcing others to trail them in slow motion and risk being bumped. When a multi axle vehicle enters SPM road, it literally occupies the entire width of the road.
Belgaum Traffic police get seasonal bouts of installing traffic signals, imposing helmets or just raising speed bumps overnight like pimples on a clean face. All this is superficial and everybody knows it. A delay in the onset of monsoon has sent the whole city in a tizzy. Talks of desilting Rakaskop lake subsides once it is full only to resurface when the bottom is visible. Belgaum has immense potential to be developed into a mini metro city. It has the nature’s bounty, the water, the climate, the fertile soil, hard- working people. What it lacks is focused development and some initiation from the state.