Thiruvananthapuram: The district administration is yet to apprise the city corporation of them weighing the idea of making Manaveeyam a vehicle-free pedestrian space. Both mayor V. K. Prasanth and deputy mayor Rakhi Ravikumar, who is also the councillor of Vazhuthacaud ward, said they were not aware of the project. The only Manaveeyam revamp project they are familiar with was the one which was included in the smart city proposal.
The district administration and Manaveeyam Theruvorakootam thinks that the smart city Manaveeyam project will take time to materialise and has approached tourism department for funding. But the mayor said that fund for the project had been allocated in the smart city proposal. It is included in the smart city fast-track projects. The proposed ideas included setting up a large digital display here and e-rickshaw charging points. The project proposal originally submitted to the corporation did not suggest that all vehicle traffic be stopped.
When DC asked whether the corporation will support such a decision, Mr Prasanth said, “What is the point of a street getting turned into a hall-like space? It can be likened to a ‘pandal’ being set up at Gandhi Park, completely changing its nature as open space. We have proposed that the road be blocked when there are some programmes, not otherwise.”
However, since it is primarily used as a parking space, the proposal to completely shut it down can be considered, said the deputy mayor. “Rather than a street for cultural activities, Manaveeyam has become a parking space, where the cars are used for illegal activities. People in vehicles might have to take a longer route, but we can consider completely blocking all traffic,” she said.
Public backs project
The public is broadly supportive of the idea of blocking Manaveeyam road. Autorickshaw drivers, S. Mohankumar and Madhu, said that blocking the traffic won’t cause much of an issue. Mr Madhu said that since it is the only road linking Museum junction for traffic coming from Vazhuthacaud, it might increase vehicles on Vellayambalam road. “But it is okay since it is a unique space,” he said.
The new design is envisaged as easily accessible space by everyone including people with disabilities. An all-inclusive space is a great idea, says Gokul Ratnakar, chairman of ‘Can Walk’, an organisation for PWDs. “Even the supposedly accessible places may not be 100% wheelchair-friendly. So a flat space through which we can easily navigate is very nice,” he says.
Most of Manaveeyam’s visitors were supportive of the proposed 24-hour blocking, but there's voice of dissent as well. Sreejith S., who has been a regular for 11 years, says, “If you cut off this road, there will be a block on the Vellayambalam road. It will affect quite a lot of people including school buses to some of the main city schools. Making it a pedestrian space benefits only a small set of people.”...