It requires only a little thought and a big desire to improve bad conditions and see the difference. Small things do matter. Good suggestions, backed by intelligent implementation can do wonders
On South Mumbai's Harvey Road (also known as Pandita Ramabai Ranade Road) opposite Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, is a footpath that is not wide by any standards, but it was widened by 0.6 metre making it 1.9 metres wide. Along the footpath, there is a small bread and egg shop which has been providing grilled sandwiches and soft drinks lately to students of two colleges in the vicinity. There is a paan shop and a novelty shop which also sells mobile phone refills and is a TV service provider. Next to it is "Winner Book Shop" selling school and college text books and then Sapana Hotel and National Restaurant. The shops on this small stretch used to, and still do, attract plenty of customers, who pass by on foot or in cars and on motorbikes. Despite a "No Stopping" sign on the kerb, vehicles stop for "just two minutes" and the traffic constable has a harrowing time trying to get them moving on. These 'two-minute' stops cause congestion on the route from Chowpatty to Gamdevi-Nana Chowk. Besides, due to the reduced space on the footpath that is clogged with customers, pedestrians walk in the middle of the road.
When the municipal corporation was relaying the footpath with interlocking concrete paver blocks, it was suggested to the Assistant Engineer of the ward to widen the footpath, so that pedestrians could walk safely, away from the traffic carriageway. It was also mentioned that widening the footpath would also help to ensure that there is no parking, as this would otherwise result in traffic coming to a standstill, so the police constable would be stricter. Apparently, he was convinced, for by the time I visited the stretch a couple of days later, I found that the footpath was already widened. Today traffic moves comparatively smoothly, with less honking; pedestrians walk safely; shops continue to be patronised as much, if not more; and the traffic police constable is less harried, or he has been posted where he is more required. Small things do matter.
Let's go further, towards Wilson College, at Nana-Nani Park Junction at Chowpatty. The carriageway of Dr Purandare Marg from the Wilson College footpath is south bound and has a width equivalent to five car lanes of say 2.75 metres, that is about 13.75 metres (m). At a reasonably brisk walking speed of says 0.8 m/second, it would take 16 seconds to cross to the pedestrian refuge at the median, which is about 1.2 metres wide. But most of the people who cross this road are children, the elderly, expectant women going to Chowpatty Beach for fresh air and recreation; their walking speed is about 0.5 m/second. This means they can cross till the pedestrian refuge at the median in about 27 seconds. The north bound carriageway has a width equivalent to six car lanes, which comes to about 16.5 metres long. The people who use this crossing can cover this stretch in 33 seconds.
Until very recently, the signal at the junction had a cycle such that the pedestrian did not have to wait for too long ( about two and a half minutes) before setting out to cross the Dr Purandare Marg (Chowpatty sea face), although the actual duration provided for crossing was not adequate. In trying to improve throughput of vehicular traffic, a pedestrian activated pedestrian crossing signal system has been installed at this junction. Initially the pedestrian signal would work as part of the signal cycle, yet if a pedestrian pressed the activating button, the pedestrian signal would get activated in some pre-computed period. The signal would work 24 hours. As a facility for the visually-impaired person, the signal would give out a hooting or whistling sound. This was a disturbance to the neighbouring college as well as the residents, especially for residents at night. Apparently this problem has been addressed indirectly. The signal cycle designers have removed the pedestrian crossing slot altogether from the traffic signal cycle altogether and have made it operative only on pedestrian activation.
Small things do matter. The hooting problem has been addressed, but not all pedestrians know that they have to press the button to activate the signal to undertake the crossing. Secondly, the waiting time after pressing the button was observed to vary from 50 seconds to two minutes and 20 seconds. This is sufficiently long to make the pedestrian impatient and ignore the pedestrian signal altogether.
The worst part about this new facility is that after the green signal has been turned on along with commencement of loud hooting for the pedestrian, the green turns to red in an unbelievably short time of 10 seconds. We know that it would take as much as 25 to 30 seconds to cross up to the pedestrian refuge at the median and nearly a full minute to cross the entire road. There is no pedestrian activated signal button at the refuge at the median!
In short, the signal denies safe access to Chowpatty Beach or Nana-Nani Park to the elderly, expectant women, the disabled, children and pets (dogs).
Now let's go northwards along Dr Purandare Marg, towards Kilachand Gardens (or the Chowpatty Band Stand Junction (called Tambe Chowk). A person going from the bus stop on the north-bound carriageway, which is almost mid-way between the Wilson College Junction and Tambe Chowk, to any of the sea-facing buildings across Dr Purandare Marg, would have to walk to Tambe Chowk, cross the Walkeshwar Road and the Babulnath Road, and go on to the destination. Quite a roundabout way! However, if a pedestrian refuge is constructed at the location, where people cross the Dr Purandare Marg anyway, even by climbing up the flower plant median, this long walk can be cut short. Currently, there is one more flaw at the Tambe Chowk signal. Even as the green signal is provided for pedestrians to cross the Dr Purandare Marg/Walkeshwar Road, the traffic going to Walkeshwar is never turned red and traffic is constantly speeding towards Malabar Hill, making a crossing nearly impossible for the vulnerable road users.
Finally, there was garbage on the otherwise well-constructed footpath on the slip road on Prof NS Phadke Marg ROB (road overbridge) at Andheri (south side), compelling pedestrians to walk on the narrow slip road endangering life and limb.
There are many roads and road junctions and all sections of road users are benefitted by designing them to cater to the needs of vulnerable sections of road users. The vulnerable section of road users include the disabled, the elderly, infirm, expectant women and children, not forgeting cyclists. Vehicular throughputs will also improve. Emphasis is required on designing with concern for the vulnerable.
What is your take? Can you identify small things that will make a difference in your neighbourhood? Can we work out slogans like "You are not at war with pedestrians, they are vulnerable majority", or "Drive carefully and avoid crashing on a pedestrian". Or, "Slow down here - danger for pedestrians". Short and crisp, that can be put up on the electronic display which has been emphasising vehicular safety rather than pedestrian safety. The mindset of vehicle drivers has to be changed.
[Sudhir Badami is a civil engineer and transportation analyst. He is on the Government of Maharashtra's Steering Committee on Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) for Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority's (MMRDA) technical advisory committee on BRTS for Mumbai. He is also member of the Research & MIS Committee of Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMMTA). He was a member of the Bombay High Court-appointed erstwhile Road Monitoring Committee (2006-07). He has been an active campaigner against noise pollution for over a decade and he is a strong believer in a functioning democracy. He can be contacted on email at email@example.com.]
According to a study by research firm Preqin, 18 private equity funds dedicated to the real estate raised an aggregate $11.2 billion in the second quarter of 2011 as compared to $8.9 billion in the March quarter
New Delhi: Real estate-focused private equity funds raised $11.2 billion from investors in the April-June period of 2011, 26% more than in the January-March quarter, reports PTI.
According to a study by research firm Preqin, 18 private equity funds dedicated to the real estate raised an aggregate $11.2 billion in the second quarter of 2011 as compared to $8.9 billion in the previous quarter.
The June quarter mop-up was much higher than the $7.1 billion raised in the fourth quarter of 2010.
"As deal levels increase and as a result more distributions occur, investors will have more capital available to make new commitments, which is likely to further improve fund raising.
"This will be a gradual improvement, and with the market remaining extremely overcrowded, many firms will still be facing long periods in market and others will be forced to abandon their fund raising efforts," Preqin manager (real estate data) Andrew Moylan said.
In terms of geography, five private equity firms in Asia raked in $1.4 billion, while three Europe-focused funds garnered $1.2 billion.
Funds with a primary focus on North America mopped up the most capital, with 10 such funds receiving an aggregate commitment of $8.6 billion.
The most successful private equity fund during the quarter in terms of fund-raising activities was Lone Star Real Estate Fund, which mopped up $5.5 billion, followed by Och-Ziff Real Estate, which raised $840 million, and Pramerica Real Estate Capital I, which attracted $786 million.
"Several funds that closed in the quarter did so above target, again indicating that fund raising success is possible in the current environment," Mr Moylan added.
There are currently 435 private equity real estate funds in the market, targeting aggregate commitments of $138 billion in the third quarter of 2011. This is a small decline in comparison to the quarter ended 31 March 2011, when 439 funds were targeting $160 billion.
The state pollution control board cited non-compliance with regard to the disposal of solid waste as reasons for issuing the closure notice
New Delhi: Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals today said its Chennai-based manufacturing facility has been issued a closure notice by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), reports PTI.
The company's Cephalosporin producing facility at Alathur in Chennai was issued a closure notice by the TNPCB citing some non-compliance with regard to the disposal of solid waste, Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals said in a filing to Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
"The company is in active dialogue with the TNPCB officials and is confident of resolving the issues and bringing the plant to a fully operational stage at the earliest," it added.
Last month, the US health regulator had inspected and cleared Alathur facility, paving the way for continuous supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from the plant to the global markets.
The Alathur facility manufactures a range of oral and sterile Cephalosporin APIs and caters to developed markets like the US, Europe and Japan. Cephalosporins are a newer class of antibiotics used in treating infections in different parts of the body.
Shares of Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals were trading 0.10% lower at Rs248.30 on BSE in post-noon trade today.