The Irwin Road Imbroglio
Columns, Over A Cup of Evening Tea

The Irwin Road Imbroglio

January 3, 2021

By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD

The very short but undoubtedly the most important and busiest stretch of the Irwin Road that runs across the main business hub of our city is now thankfully open to traffic, although I cannot say for how long it will remain so. I say this because with some more widening works yet to be taken up there and which have been held up due to some very weird legal wrangles, the road is very likely to be closed once again. 

If this happens it will make its closure the third one in two years although anyone vested with some common sense will tell you that the entire widening operation could have been done without closing the entire road completely for months together, had some similar common sense prevailed in all those who planned and carried out the widening operation. 

Although there were two well-matched groups of citizens who stood for and against its widening, I stand with all those who felt that its widening was necessary to ease the flow of traffic. But I was aghast at the way the operation was carried out, keeping the road closed for months together without the slightest thought to keeping its alternate parallel roads free from obstacles, at least during that period. 

Even as things stand now, these parallel roads with their abject lack of upkeep and the flourishing petty businesses which spill on to almost the middle of the road, are the best examples of how any city road should not be. It is a ‘no holds barred and no questions asked’ part of our city where sadly no one dares to ask any questions — neither the citizens nor the law-makers! 

Moreover, the Irwin Road widening work was started in great haste even as many legal hurdles were still unresolved, which interrupted the smoothness of the operation, delaying it needlessly. The whole process could have been taken up in one go if only the authorities had taken care to iron out all hurdles beforehand. The residents and shop-keepers of that road and all the areas adjacent to it together with the COVID-19 effect, undoubtedly suffered the longest lockdown of us all, bearing much hardship in their daily lives and great losses in their businesses. 

Along with them also suffered thousands of the patients who used to go to the many nursing homes and diagnostic centres along that road for their health problems. On many occasions we could see many of them even being carried by their relatives in their eagerness and anxiety to get them treated.  This kind of thoughtless cruelty could have been avoided if only the authorities had carried out their work only by night, keeping the road open by day.  This experiment they did try on the request of citizens with a good deal of success but sadly only for a very brief spell. Why their kindness did not last long is unknown. 

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Coming back to the present state, since the now widened road has enough room to provide some parking space for vehicles, the authorities would do well to provide parking arrangements on one side on even dates and on the other side on odd dates so that people who go there for their shopping and more importantly their medical needs are not put to inconvenience.  It must be borne in mind that for all those who have to visit this area there is absolutely no parking space anywhere nearby which is why creating it on Irwin Road itself is a must. 

And, if the all too real fear of this parking space being perpetually occupied by shopkeepers or residents themselves has to be addressed, the best option is to introduce paid parking arrangements as has been successfully done in Bengaluru. When it can work there with admirable smoothness even in the busiest and narrowest roads like Brigade Road and Commercial Street, there is no reason why it should not work here too. 

There seems to be a very powerful lobby of vested interests here in Mysuru that has been successfully stalling the introduction of paid parking in some of the areas that need it most like the busy Ashoka Road and Devaraj Urs Road where all day long we see desperate people going round in circles to find a place to park for just a few minutes of their essential shopping. And very sadly, there seems to be an equally pliable and obliging group among our authorities who have been buckling to this selfish lobby and failing to put their foot down to cure the rot that has been crying for a cure over more than a decade. 

Yes, it has been almost a decade since one of our former Corporation Commissioners proclaimed very proudly and loudly too that automated parking meters have already been purchased and that they would be installed and made operational very soon. But nothing has happened although many people have come, sat on and vacated that holy chair as if in a children’s game of musical chairs! 

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Is this not a very shameful mockery of administrative authority and does it not smack of its ineptitude in doing something very elementary? If it does not, can someone in the administration tell us why we are being denied this simple remedy to our parking woes? 

Our newspapers regularly carry letters from citizens highlighting the pathetic situation in the city and yet nothing seems to be changing. Now it is certainly time for suffering citizens to cast away their mantle of tolerance and firmly prevail upon all those whose responsibility it is to provide us all some much-needed succour and see that we get it. Mind you, if we continue to wait and watch, we will continue to wait and watch helplessly, for all time to come!

A Slightly Sad New Year’s Eve

Since I am not a partying man or a New Year’s Eve celebrator, I have welcomed every  New Year’s Eve from the tranquillity of my home with my family, never ever having attended a New Year party in my life! But I do not decry those who make the coming of the New Year a big or even boisterous event. It is their way of welcoming an event what they feel is going to make a very great difference to their lives. 

But this year, because of the COVID-19 threat, the Government put the lid down firmly on all kinds of New Year partying, to contain the possibility of a spurt in the cases which is an understandable precaution. But as I was driving around the city, a full two hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve, I saw our Police personnel urging all business establishments to pull down their shutters. 

The sad part is that small cafes and ice-cream shops that were just giving take away parcels too were made to stop their sales although people were eagerly trying to buy what they or their little children wanted as a small treat to remember the arrival of the New Year. 

I saw a couple of disappointed tiny-tots going away in tears because the cops at the last moment prevented the ice-cream shop from giving them their ice-cream. This seemed like a rather sadistic thing to do and a miscarriage of law enforcement on a people’s special day. Cannot our laws be tempered with a little more kindness so that it shows their enforcers in a little kindlier light to our little children? 

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