DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thirty thousand and counting

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Crowd at the Boat Club last Sunday
Last reports said that on the 9th edition of “Rahagiri” in Bhopal last Sunday the kilometre and a half stretch of the Lake View Road was busting with “rahagirs”. As many as thirty thousand and more had collected there and there was hardly any space to move. People, obviously, couldn’t walk, cycle, skate or play any games for want of space. The road seems to have been overwhelmed by “rahagirs” and this after the authorities opened the roads along the RCVP Narhona Academy of Administration and the Campion School on the banks of Shahpura Lake were also thrown open to them where around 15000 collected to enjoy the vehicles-free roads.

Doesn’t all this prove something? Well, it does. It proves how people are fed up with vehicles clogging the roads leaving hardly any space for pedestrians and cyclists. We have too many motorised vehicles while the roads are few and generally inadequate. It takes time and needles money on avoidable detours to cover short distances. Only this afternoon my auto driver (I don’t
At Shapura infront of eponymous Lake
drive in the crowded Old City area) had to take a long detour as there was a big jam near the GAD Square flyover. It was a great nuisance. I couldn’t but pity the students sitting in those yellow buses taking in in copious quantities the noxious diesel fumes. If this is the fate of people in a developing economy I would rather not have this kind of development. I wouldn’t mind going back sixty years when we used to walk or cycle to the schools and colleges. Perhaps, all those who collect for those six hours on every Sunday are harking back to those good old carefree days when life was simpler and less complicated – the roads were free of these miserable automobiles.

One has to admire the spirit of these men and women, boys and girls and of course the children that they, on the weekly day of rest, pull themselves out of their beds travel over long distances to be at the Boat Club or the Shahpura Lake. Had I been younger, perhaps, I too would have joined them – after all I am not immune to the herd mentality. But that is now not possible. Nonetheless, sitting at home I ruminate over what is happening to the Lake with such a huge pressure of people, given the sheer incompetence apart from lethargy of its custodian which is none other than the Bhopal Municipal Corporation. Reports had earlier indicated that trash in large volumes had collected after every session of “rahagiri” and hawkers of food are still around to cause littering. Indians somehow can’t resist eating whatever is available when they are on an outing.

 One can only hope the new Municipal Commissioner, who has actively encouraged “rahagiti”, will take care of this aspect of the movement which seems to be on a roll. The Lake is in his charge and he must take care of it. In my opinion, it is now time cap the numbers of “rahgirs”.

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Photos: From the Internet


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