As a part of its plans for ‘beautification’ of the city, the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) has initiated the development of the major commercial streets in Vijayawada. The existing food street near the Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation (IGMC) Stadium along MG Road, and the busy shopping street on Besant Road, will see an overhaul, at a total cost of Rs 3.4 crore. Vijayawada Central MLA Malladi Vishnu inaugurated the two projects — ‘Redevelopment of Eat Street’ and ‘Redevelopment and Pedestrianization of Besant Road’ — on Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, the MLA said that of the Rs 50.96 crore grant received by the VMC from the state government, Rs 1.4 crore will be used for the development of the food street, and Rs 2 crore will be used to make Besant Road a pedestrian-friendly street, in order to improve the quality of the facilities available to people on these streets.
“As Besant Road is a main street where people are always visiting, to improve the facilities available to people, Rs 2 crore will be used to develop a stretch of 700 metres, without any inconvenience to street vendors or the public,” the MLA said. He added that the development works will be completed in 6 months.
However, in the past, street vendors’ groups had expressed apprehensions about the development project. If the project is accompanied by the demarcation of vending zones and the regularising of street vendors, many vendors feared that they could be left out of the refurbished street.
Besant Road is one of the busiest streets in Vijayawada. With shops and street vendors lining either side of the road selling food, clothes, accessories and other products, the street is always crowded and bustling with activity.
The VMC had earlier said that its plans for the ‘beautification’ of Besant Road involve redeveloping it. The Urban Community Development officials of VMC had mentioned plans to place bollards on either side of the road which would emerge into place at certain business hours, blocking traffic through the road and only allowing pedestrians. The process would take 4-5 months, officials had said, and vendors would have to be relocated from the street during this period.
The food street near IGMC stadium would usually be lined with street food vendors’ carts at night time, from around 10 pm to 1:30 am. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the food street has been inactive for several months.