Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times e-Paper 21st Dec. 13 Hinduaapkisadak

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Aapki Sadak @ KHOJ

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Khoj International Artist Association hosted a unique exhibition “Aapki Sadak” of a unique initiative to improve the quality of life in our neighbourhoods. The initiative involved the residents and the civic bodies to make neighbourhood streets pedestrian friendly and enjoyable, and access to the Metro and other public transport convenient. It is about reclaiming the enjoyment of the spaces around our homes which is taken over by motor vehicles. We need to breathe clean air again.
A technical team of four firms – architects, urban designers( Ashok B. Lall Architects),  streetscape specialists (Oasis Design Incorporated) and mobility experts (Sandeep Gandhi  Architects) -have got together to work with residents of  Malviya Nagar,  Khirki Extension and  Sheikh Sarai to develop a consensus plan for the improvement of their streets and environment friendly connections to public transport. The project is supported by Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation.
Ashok Lall, the eminent architect who is leading the project, believes that this could be a model for citizens becoming participants in the greening of the city’s mobility and transportation. As was tried out in this demonstration project; trained professionals provide the logistical and technical expertise to provide practical solutions for existing conditions through a consultative process with residents. Each locality would progressively improve its own streets and make sure that it has convenient, pleasant and safe access to public transport.
Sandeep Gandhi Architects and Oasis Designs Incorporated, who have together designed many street improvements in the country, explain that community consultation in this project has helped them find the most direct and appropriate design solutions. Ten community consultation workshops were held and a consensus reached.
The Project Co-ordinators  – Aastha Chauhan, Manas Murthy and Sushma Shetty, with the help of a team of architects, artists and volunteers reached out to a broad cross section of residents, local politicians, administrative officials and NGO’s; the stakeholders of change in society.
Following the engagement process, Mr. Kakkar, Convener of the Resident’s Ward Committee, Malviya Nagar says that the technical solutions and designs have strengthened the case for the many issues that have been discussed with authorities from time to time by the RWA’s.
The main findings of the project have been that people are desperate for basic amenities such as footpaths to walk to the market and to the Metro, rising prices and sheer unavailability of rickshaws and the reduction of certain bus routes have severely handicapped people – especially the older generation and children who cannot walk long distances, and are threatened by fast moving traffic.
The solutions to these woes have been suggested by reconfiguring car parking arrangements and fences to make room for footpaths and cycle rickshaws – a cheap and environment friendly option for un-walkable distance in congested areas. Traffic management and easy to use schemes are also featured in the solutions provided by the Aapki Sadak team.
The design proposal is being discussed with various authorities on behalf of the residents. UTTIPEC, which is the arm of Delhi Development Authority to promote pedestrian inclusion and public transport in the development of the city, is facilitating coordination amongst these agencies. Lt. Governor Tejendra Khanna has proposed the project be adopted by UTTIPEC as a demonstration of participative design and planning.
Both the Chief Minister of Delhi, Mrs. Sheila Dixit and the MLA, Dr. Kiran Walia have congratulated the team on the project and encouraged them to carry on the good work.
Curated by Aastha Chauhan, the exhibition at KHOJ, invited people to an imagining of the city and its streets through art and cultural events. In keeping with KHOJ’s commitment to social engagement, the exhibition used art to integrate the citizen in the complex process of improving neighbourhoods.