Conservancy lanes, that were once used for the ignominious purpose of manual scavenging, are now being redesigned to make a prime locality in Bengaluru walkable for senior citizens and children.
Malleswaram, laid out immediately after the 1898 Plague and one of the earliest planned areas in the city, has conservancy lanes which have fallen into disuse for years and of late been encroached upon and used for parking vehicles.
Malleswaram Urban Living Lab (M-ULL), a collaboration between Malleswaram Social and Sensing Local Foundation, after a successful campaign of street wall art transforming the old neighbourhood, has now taken up the initiative to transform conservancy lanes into walkable streets for senior citizens.
Initially, 1.24 sq km area in Ward 45, 0.87 sq km in Ward 65, and 0.12 sq km in Ward 35 have been selected for this intervention. All facilities that senior citizens look forward to — benches, adequate lighting and road safety will be provided in these lanes, that connect key amenities like parks, schools and hospitals in the area. The initiative is supported by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) as well.
Suchitra Deep, architect and co-founder of Malleswaram Social and M-ULL told The Hindu that the initiative was born out of the concern that with crowding of the area, it had become tough to walk through the neighbourhood even for the young, and definitely more challenging for senior citizens. “There is no space to get together and socialise. Especially after the pandemic, people are keen to meet up and connect with each other and are seeking more safe spaces across the area. We are also planning other zones, 50 zones for toddlers, senior citizens, and other community activities. We aim to improve walkability of Malleswaram by reimagining conservancy lanes as public spaces,” she said. A public meeting on the initiative has been convened on May 26.
Vijaya Shenoy, a senior citizen from Malleswaram, said unlike the young they were not a digital native generation and wanted to physically meet people their age but lacked spaces for the same in Malleswaram. “Due to traffic, even parks are accessible only in the early mornings. Even then they are crowded. Most of the footpaths are dug up and unsafe to walk. Conservancy lanes are a good option for senior citizens and we are happy that they are transforming them to make space for us, so that we can breathe fresh air and meet people our age,” she said.