Bhubaneswar: The capital city projected itself as an ultra ‘smart city’ in the country ahead of the Hockey World Cup 2018. Fast forward to 2021, a slew of ambitious projects launched then are lying waste now.
Among the many projects launched by the Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL) was the Adaptive Traffic Signal Control (ATSC) that indicates how public funds should not be utilized. As per an RTI inquiry by Odisha Soochna Adhikar Abhijan, the BSCL received Rs700 crore from the Centre and the state government to develop the smart city here.
With an aim to efficiently manage the rising traffic in the City, ATSCs were erected at 50 junctions to optimise the traffic flow by dynamically changing the signal timings. As per the RTI, the BSCL spent about Rs. 10 crore on the project.
“The number of vehicles has increased dramatically in the city and so have the gridlocks. ATSCs are there at selected places only. Peak rush hours see huge congestions in Rasulgarh, Market Building and Bomikhal areas that don’t have ATSCs. As it heavily relies on manpower, absences of traffic cops sees people ignoring the system,” observed Smruti Ranjan Patnaik, an urban planner here.
Moreover, the project brought in about 14 pelican signals and five blinkers at different locations to ensure road safety. Pelican signals are manually-controlled signals that give pedestrians a duration of 15 seconds by turning the traffic lights red to cross the roads safely. Blinkers were to help commuters to be cautious while manoeuvring important junctions.
Thanks to poor awareness and lack of enforcement, the initiative has turned out be a complete failure. Put up at key locations like RD College, Press Club Road, KIIT School and Sum Hospital, the riders give two hoots to traffic lights even if they turn red.
Aviral Mishra, OP