Sanjit Rodrigues, chairman of the Goa state infrastructure development corporation (GSIDC) and commissioner, corporation of the city of Panaji (CCP), feels it is time to take some "harsh measures" to save Panaji from the "urban decay and traffic paralysis" that have set in.
"The people will protest, there may be huge public outcry against radical ideas like no-motor roads and pay-parking, but unless we give these plans a chance, how will we know if our lives can get better?" Rodrigues asks. Unless some drastic measures are taken, Panaji will gridlock itself in traffic, he quips.
"Initially, the people of Panaji protested against the concept of door-to-door garbage collection. CCP corporators told me that garbage segregation and bin-free localities would never work. We see the difference today. We have 90% domestic and 100% industrial garbage segregation," says Rodrigues, who has set a 15-year timeframe for the complete implementation of the 'Imagine Panaji' plan.
The mobility plan will be implemented first, but in order for it to work, it has to be done together, as all the different components-pedestrianization of roads, parking strategies, public transportation-are interdependent on each other.
And what about the massive funding the execution would require? "There are many sources of funding that can be tapped for a holistic plan like this-some projects can be funded by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), a few by the tourism department, etc. I am not worried about the funding," he says.
In a congested city like Panaji, the solution is not to move away, but to make changes so that the city can live on, he says. "To de-congest the city, we started extending it into out-growths like Bambolim, by shifting essential facilities-hospitals, schools, etc-out of Panaji. Now, we are stuck drawing up plans to de-congest Bambolim."
He says that every development plan has a shelf-life of only 20 years and sustained development is required to keep a city alive. Once the revamp is in place, the government will have to make rules, regulations and bylaws to help maintain the quality of the infrastructure set up, he concludes.