Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Vehicle-free New Road on the cards

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, February 2[2004]

Every street has its day...And so, Kathmandu's busiest street and commercial hub, New Road, which also has the distinction of being the country's first ever two-way road, is waiting for its day to say 'no' to vehicles. The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) is thinking of converting New Road into an open entertainment-commercial ground where only pedestrians will be allowed.
New Road was built on the rubble of those hundreds of mud-and brick houses that collapsed in the 1934 earthquake. After the road was constructed, it was wider than people had expected. Popularly known as "Elephant Walk", it was named Juddha Sadak after the then prime minister Juddha Samsher, who designed it. "The current chaotic scene in New Road will no longer be there. Instead, it will be an open street where everything except vehicles will be allowed," said Mayor, Keshav Sthapit.
According to the KMC master plan, people wishing to use the main road will have to leave their vehicles in area around Sundhara or RNAC building. From New Road Gate to the Juddha Samsher statue chowk and Basantapur, open bistros, coffee shops and shopping malls in the middle of the road will enliven the atmosphere. Bhugol Park will be expanded to become a part of the new New Road. The building which houses the Nepal Investment Bank will be demolished. However, old landmarks like the pipal tree, newspaper stands around it and the shoe-shine spots will stay. Until 1990, the spot was a popular haunt of politicians and journalists.
Sthapit voiced his dream, "This will be a hub for the youth to spend time with their dear ones and to be mentally rid of violence, terror and negativity. Artistes will perform on the street to amuse passers-by and make the scene more romantic." Ward 23 chairman, Siddananda Bajracharya, said that the local ward chairmen had not been duly informed of the proposed changes. He demanded that the project provide special facilities for locals who would otherwise face practical problems.
Amrit Man Shrestha, a KMC advisor, said that the project would take some time to kick off. "The process is likely to begin with a facelift of old Bhugol Park.”
[ KATHMANDU, FEBRUARY 03, 2004, Magh 20, 2060 ]