Monday, October 29, 2007

Facelift woes for Gangtok

Gangtok, Oct. 28: A move is on to give M.G. Marg a new look. However, residents here are not happy with the inconveniences that usually come with a makeover drive of this sort.
Located in the heart of the town, the Marg was shut down from today for renovation. It is likely to reopen after March 30.
Chief minister Pawan Chamling had visited the spot, the busiest shopping-cum-trading centre of the state capital, yesterday.
The slow progress of the work ever since it started more than four months ago had drawn flak from several quarters because of disruptions in traffic and pedestrian movement and parking problems.
Prem Goyal, a resident of the area, said shopkeepers would now have to pay porters, as vehicles with goods would not come till their doorsteps. Not only that, some are unhappy about garbage collecting trucks not being allowed to enter.
In the first phase, the old divider between the two vehicle lanes has been removed and a part of it replaced with a narrower one. The telephone cables, too, are being laid underground to do away with the cluttered look.
Since the facelift had started during monsoon, it aggravated the already poor condition of the roads. It increased the number of potholes.
Moreover, the tourist season that followed did not help things much. With more digging in progress to lay the sewerage pipes, the spot remains unapproachable.
According to the chief minister’s order, the stretch between the tourist information centre and the traffic post at the Sonam Gyatso Marg intersection will be closed to vehicles as long as the first phase of the modification work goes on.
Plans are also afoot to lay cobblestones and granite on the half kilometre stretch of the Marg — from the tourist information centre to Star, a movie hall.
Additional chief engineer of the urban development and housing department C. Zangpo said in the next few days three re-worked proposals on the modification will be submitted to the government for approval. “The exact cost too will be given at that time,” Zangpo said.
A rough estimate of Rs 60 lakh has been drawn up for the present. The figure is likely to go up once the laying of cobbled stones and granite is approved.