By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD
It has been reported that our City Corporation authorities are thinking of making Sayyaji Rao Road and Devaraj Urs Road a complete ‘No Parking’ zone just because they will soon be providing us a multi-level underground parking lot in the Town Hall premises. I think this is one of the stupidest proposals that anyone can think of. Have they considered the difficulty that has to be faced by citizens who come to do their shopping, driving their own vehicles? Is it not unfair to expect them to park their vehicles at the Town Hall and walk all the way in the sun and the rain to the far ends of either the Sayyaji Rao Road or the Devaraj Urs Road to reach the shops that they wish to visit? And, is it fair to expect them to trudge all the way back to the parking lot, lugging their full shopping bags? It is certainly not an easy option.
Rumours are already abuzz that by announcing this outlandish proposal the people in power are actually issuing a veiled ransom note to all the shop-owners in and around the two roads so that they can be made to collectively pay a heavy ransom to get this ban cancelled. With no other go, when they are trapped between the devil and the deep sea, they will indeed pool the money and pay up this ransom amount to rescue their businesses from the possibility of being ruined. They are the ones who stand to lose a great deal if their potential customers are not allowed to park their vehicles near their shops as business then gets diverted to other areas in the peripheries of the city.
Nothing is more detrimental to business than the absence of parking space at a stone’s throw for customers. Customers shy away from areas without convenient parking and we have seen many established business outlets on Sayyaji Rao Road and K. R. Circle gradually failing because of this problem. The owners of a few such firms have got over this problem by opening additional branches in peripheral areas. But with real estate values being what they are now, not everyone in business can resort to this prohibitively expensive solution. Further, shop owners will also be put to additional inconvenience if they cannot park their own vehicles close to their establishments.
There is no denying the fact that at present a great deal of parking space in these two roads and the Ashoka Road is indeed occupied by the shop owners themselves for their own vehicles. It is actually this practice that is causing a scarcity of parking space on these three main roads in our business district. The vehicles of the hundreds of shop, office and bank employees of the area too contribute to this shortage. The best way to deter this is to allow roadside parking but at a fairly hefty fee on an hourly basis which will still not be resented by citizens who will not park their vehicles beyond the time they require for their shopping or banking needs. People will certainly not mind paying about twenty rupees for an hour of parking time as they are now doing in Bengaluru and many other metropolitan cities.
All long-time parking will then automatically get diverted to the much cheaper Town Hall parking lot putting it to good use and also relieving the congestion on the roads. But there are people amidst us who may say that allowing roadside parking causes traffic congestions. Nothing can be farther from the truth. We all know that paid parking is being allowed without much chaos in many cities on roads much narrower than the three roads under question in our city. If it can be done there it can be done here too, if only we have the will to consider all options with an open mind. This is something that has to be done by fair public consultation and debate and certainly not as a unilateral decision thrust upon us.
Suicide-proof ceiling fans!
In case you do not know, Kota, a small town in Rajasthan is the place in the country which has the largest number of private coaching centres for our Civil Service examinations. It also appears that this small town has now become the suicide capital of the country with more and more aspiring and striving youngsters very often deciding to snuff out their lives in utter frustration, unable to bear the pressure of being in the rat race.
In connection with this rather sad and grim scenario I was amused to read a news report recently that the authorities there are thinking of making the installation of suicide-proof ceilings fans mandatory in all buildings that offer paying-guest accommodation in the town. This is the wise outcome of the finding that hanging oneself from a ceiling fan is the most favoured and convenient way of committing suicide in Kota.
In case you do not know what I am talking about, this yet-to-be-invented device is a simple ceiling fan suspended from a spring which will immediately expand and come down the moment someone tries to commit suicide by hanging from it. It brings the person down in a safe landing, ending his or her aspirations of leaving this world and departing to a less demanding one! Whether this rescue device succeeds in its noble mission or not is yet to be seen.
But what will happen when everyone in Kota comes to know that the ceiling fans there can no longer bring respite from pressure and pain and start exploring other means of ending their lives? Will the government then think of suicide-proof top floors and tree branches? Or will it introduce non-lethal poisons and access-controlled railway tracks?
It is indeed sad that young lives are being lost needlessly. But do we have to counter it with outlandishly impractical if not entirely comic means? Why can we not think of stepping up our social vigilance and create readily available means of psychological counselling to which desperate youngsters can turn? And, most importantly, can we all as parents not tell our children that nothing…..absolutely nothing in this world, is worth thinking of leaving for the next…..before it is time for us to go there?
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