Bengaluru’s MG Road resembled a fair as the city celebrated Open Street day – when dances, crafts, and shops replaced the noisy vehicles in the city’s business district. The day was a success and loved by those who attended it. However, it is precisely this atmosphere which some of the city’s residents want to do away with as plan their own open street day
On Sunday, a stretch of the MG Road was closed to vehicles from 9am to 9pm in a bid to promote public transport and urban tourism in the city. The event was jointly organized by Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), the Tourism Department and the Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL).
The concept of having roads closed to traffic for a day to promote the use of public transport has been gaining popularity in the city. Open Street day comes on the back of “Happy Street Day”, which was held on nearby Commercial Street last month with similar fanfare.
Now the organizers have approached the Indiranagar Residents’ Welfare Association to organize a similar event in that area.
Sneha Nandihal of the Association, who participated in the Open Street event on MG road on Sunday, says the whole point of an open street was lost on account of the way the event was organized.
“Although the objective of such an event was to encourage better community participation, it ended up being very commercialized – there was a whole range of overpriced shops selling things,” Sneha said.
There was also an irony in the whole affair.
“Yesterday plastics were also widely being used at the event despite BBMP being one of the organizers. The BBMP had repeatedly urged for citizens to ban the use of plastic, so this is ironic,” she says.
She says that when the event is organized in Indiranagar, the association would do it differently.
“BMRCL has already approached us for an Open Street event and we’re already in talks with the CMH Road traders association with regard to the same. But when we organize it, we will make sure it is less commercialized and more community-based,” said Sneha.
She added that they would ensure that the event would to be eco-friendly: no plastic would be used and any garbage generated from the event would be disposed of in an appropriate manner. “It’s going to be more on the lines of the Open Street event held at HSR layout,” she added.
A group of residents of HSR layout had organized an Open Street Day last September, possibly Bengaluru’s first.
Apart from the carnival and Zumba dancers, the event featured a play on waste segregation which is a major civic issue in the city. A petathon – a marathon for pets – was also held, with 40 pets seen walking together across HSR layout.