Pushpa Bisht, a resident of Sector 14 prefers to walk on the main road instead of the footpaths. She does it because of pain in her knee and the heights of the footpaths in those areas where she goes for morning or evening walks. She usually walks on Road Number 205 where the footpath along the road is not easily accessible due to its height.
“If you want to walk on the footpath, you need to take support of something as they are on a height. Stones or bricks are placed somewhere as temporary steps but that is not easy to use always. I prefer to walk on the road as the footpaths are not that friendly.”
Most of the footpaths and pedestrian ways in the sub-city don't have a specific height. The heights are erratic and uneven in the streets, along master plan roads and service roads. At some places, the height is less than one foot while at many places it is somewhere around three feet. This causes difficulty in approaching the footpath for common people. For senior citizens and physically challenged people, these footpaths seem completely inaccessible.
The footpaths at such height leave no option for the disabled but to take help from others. Sanjeev, an RTI activist and Vice president of Dwarka forum who has been following up on the subject with the authorities says, “It is quite surprising to know that in Dwarka which is a modern sub-city, there is no symmetry in height of the footpaths. According to the rules of the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC), the height should be 15 cm maximum. These facilities are made for the convenience of the pedestrians, not for their discomfort.”
Sanjeev said that the subject was raised in several meetings with the civic bodies; they did not take it seriously. Mentioning one such meeting Sanjeev shared, “ We met with the Chief Engineer Dwarka earlier. He said that nothing can be done now. Now one can think of how there was a fault in the planning for one of the most planned areas of Delhi (Dwarka).”
To access the footpath at many places, RWAs or the residents have made steps. In front of schools mainly in Sector 18 such steps can be seen. A senior citizen and resident of Sector 14 SK Sharma, says, “In front of Kautilya Apartments and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Apartments Sector 14 one can see that people have made steps to approach the footpath. These footpaths are almost two feet high. When you commute on Road Number 210 and 205 you would see the height of the footpath is more than two feet and in some stretches, it is almost three feet. What is its use? Similarly, you can see the footpaths are higher from the side of the service road and lower as compared to the other side on the side of the main road. It gives a tough time for us to go on footpaths for a walk. The Authorities should make small stairs at some particular intervals near the markets and the residential pockets because they have failed in planning."
Many residents have written letters in the past to the authority to do the needful in this direction, at least in those areas which are near to the residential pockets and markets but nothing effective has been done yet. In that way, in the whole sub-city, pedestrians prefer to walk on the road instead of taking footpaths. Such a thing not only shows the fault in giving smooth infrastructure for pedestrians but also makes their lives risky on roads.
Anuj Sinha, a civil engineer by profession says, “ In planning the city DDA should have involved more experts at detail designing level. Urban designers with traffic planners could have helped to resolve these problems. Issues like the height of footpath, curbstone height, road median design and detailing with respect to road level could have been detailed out well. As per design, they should not be that high.”
One of the officials of DDA said on the condition of anonymity, “When the sub-city was being planned, footpaths were constructed over the drains which were along the roads. So the height of the footpath depends on the height of the drains. But we never stopped anyone who makes stairs for convenience where the footpaths are high. This is a genuine problem and we all should understand it.”