Tag: Noida

Ban on Plastic Bags

Two weeks back, while shopping, I had kind of rude awakening to the fact that big retail stores are trying to do their part in ban on usage of plastic bags. Nonetheless, since we’re in India and most of the times, there are loopholes in every single law (please don’t generalize and hit me back with counterpoints), the stores have started using it to their benefit.

I was shopping in Lifestyle, Great India Place mall, Noida with my brother. At the billing counter, the salesman asked my brother, whether he needs a plastic bag. At the moment, I was surprised on hearing the question and thought for a moment – “What a stupid question. Are we supposed to take that Tee in our hands?” I think, my brother thought the same, as he answered affirmatively.  On getting the bill, he saw Rs 5 charged for the plastic carry bag, and he inquired about that. The salesman told that, he did ask whether we need the bag or not! And he told that the bag is for Rs 5! Since we had already completed the payment, we moved out of the line, though kind of disturbed with this utter nonsense. It was fathomless for me at that time, as to what was going on.

Both of us bickered about this for some time.

The next day, Abhinandan told me a similar experience he had in Shoppers Stop. After which I did some research and figured that these stores are trying to be eco-friendly and reduce the usage of plastics. After reading this, my anger against the malpractices of these stores shot up multi-fold.

After all, if the stores really care about the environment and want to reduce the usage of plastics, why don’t they completely stop using plastic bags? Why can’t they use paper bags like Peter England has been doing for last 6-7 years? If this is not simply pretending on their part, then what is it?

I read somewhere that they are charging for the plastic bags, so that people will stop buying them and instead of that carry a bag with them. Do you really believe that crap? Do you think that they are not seeing an extra source of income, with really huge margins to reap the earnings and fatten the sales books?

A concerned person or organization, stops producing and distributing such items.

Dear LifeStyle, Shoppers Stop and other stores who are following this – get yourself right, don’t just pretend to care for the environment. Do something. Use paper bags! You can fool a lot of people in believing that charging for plastic bags is doing good for environment, but not me and people like me.


Traffic Woes – Part 1

Traffic congestion is a problem which humanity faces worldwide. There are different reasons though in different cities at different times.

Even in a world class city like New York City, congestion is a problem at times, though not always. Whatever I witnessed there was near the tunnels, mostly due to the toll. At other times, there was a breakdown, which blocked one lane and caused traffic snarls due to merging traffic from other lanes. And at other unfortunate times, an accident blocked some lanes during the approach to the city, either through tunnels or on GWB. This all is something which is normal and cannot be discounted from our life. Bad things happen and will keep on happening.

What I am writing about is how an ill-planned, illogical road network can ensure congestion every day! How people entrusted to keep the traffic streamlined, choose to turn a blind eye to those daily incidents, may be cause they are also frustrated due to the daily witnessing of jams.

Let’s turn our focus to Noida, a cosmopolitan industrial suburb of India’s capital, New Delhi. Noida which stands for New Okhla Industrial Development Authority was created in April 1976 during then Government’s urbanization drive. It is strategically located near the capital, just across river Yamuna. It started as an industrial city, with factories, workshops (which are located in and around Sec 1-12) and then during the IT boom, slowly converted itself into an IT hub. The city is no doubt very well planned when it was originally drawn on the draft boards.

I have been in this city for the last 9 years and so have seen fair deal of development here.

In last couple of years, to cater to increasing population, new sectors were coming up all within the geographical boundaries. During the same time, to cater to ever increasing rush of vehicles, widening of roads, flyovers, under passes started coming up. This is when some ill-thought projects were kicked off, which when came into existence, created more troubles than comfort.

Sometimes, the projects kept missing deadlines again and again, and people kept on suffering due to the construction going on the affected areas. A case in point is the under pass near Rajnigandha crossing. This project slipped 4 deadlines (at least this is what I read) and was finally started just last week. 

There are some projects, which are going at such critical locations, and have a really long deadline! I fail to understand, how the Authority even agreed to have such long deadlines. This time the case in point is construction of an underpass and fly over at Sec 37 crossing. From what I have read about, that project is going to complete sometime in later half of 2012. So brace yourself for 2013 beginning.

I think this much background is enough on this issue. Let’s get back to the current bottlenecks and congestion points.

The above image shows you what some of you may know as Link road. The road (top of the image) is coming from Mayur Vihar and goes on straight to Greater Noida Expressway. Let’s focus on the points which have been numbered in the image to understand what happens during the daily morning commute.

The road at point 1 is coming from Sec 19 underpass. Due to the construction at Sec 37 crossing, this part of road is currently under lot of stress. At point 1 the road divides into two parts, one of which is actually meant to serve the Great India Place mall entrance. Nevertheless, at point 4, where this road merges onto the Link road, the traffic is controlled manually by traffic police, that point serving as a stop location. This means that, when the incoming on this road is heavy, congestion stretches up to point 1. Let’s see a detailed map of point 1.

 You can clearly see that there are two yellow lines moving towards left. When the vehicles start stopping at point 1, people start driving on the inner road (meant to serve the entrance of the mall). This road then merges onto the main road at point 2. Since there is no space for accommodating this merging traffic into the main road, a jam happens every day at point 2, where the vehicles on the inner road are trying to merge into the already choked main road, causing the leftmost lane on the main road to choke, which as a domino effect causes right lanes to choke, since people start trying to move onto their right. This was the first congestion point.

If you see the first image (congestion area 1), there is small slip road, at point 3, which is not exactly a road for traffic movement, but is kind of an embankment road for the drain. Nonetheless, light motor vehicles and two Wheelers can easily maneuver t he ditches on this stretch. What happens is, during congestion, when traffic is standstill till point 1, people start using this slip road at point 3. Since we don’t know the concept of lane driving and since there is incoming traffic through point 2, there are times when point 3 helps in creating a deadlock when vehicles cannot enter slip road at point 3, due to already jammed slip road, and vehicles merging onto the main road through point 2, are not able to smoothly merge in, and also due to some A-class shitbags, who are although in right lanes of the main road, but want to enter slip road. This was congestion point 2!

Well, after spending at least 5 minutes to cross this stretch you actually somehow reach near point 4. Since this is kind of traffic light, you have to stop here. Usually if you stop just near the flyover approach, then its more certain that you’ll pass point 4 in two bursts. The traffic policemen believe in unequal bursts for this part of merging traffic and the one which is coming from Delhi.

Anyways, once you pass point 4, you’re on a three lane road (on each side). Since there is no traffic light or manual traffic maintenance from this point, you’ll think that you’ll move fast. No, that’s the wrong logical assumption you made. The beauty comes here and our first bottleneck, and I mean it literally!

The stretch marked as point 5, is a three lane road, which turns into two-lane at point 6. At point 6, we have a small bridge over the open drain. This causes the traffic from 3 lanes to merge into two lanes, in order to cross over the roughly 50 meters bridge. A bottleneck! Obviously this causes congestion on stretch of point 5.

A solution to ease off traffic at this point would be widen the bridge to at least 3 lanes, so that the traffic can move smoothly. But, since we live in Noida, where city planners are so dumb that they can beat anyone at dumbness, they thought that since there are regular traffic jams on point 5, let’s widen point 5 to 4 lanes! The planners seem to have turned a blind eye at the actual cause of the jam – the narrow bridge at point 6! The widening of the stretch at point 5, will ensure more merging jams, causing more delays! Even if there are plans for widening the bridge, the approach should not be widened unless the bridge has been widened. But, then who am I to say that? Just a citizen living in a so-called world class city and commuting every day to work through hell!

The next post in this series will talk about the other congestion points.

Pour in your feedback. I have not focused on an effective writing style here, though usually I do.

An initiative worth mentioning

I am quite a frequent customer at Costa’s Coffee, esp of the store in the Great India place, Noida. Some time back, I noticed that they have hired some employees who cannot speak (as in speech impaired). I personally appreciated the initiative and gesture of people at Costa’s India after seeing that. I thought at that moment, that I should write about it so that more and more people know about this.

There must be many such organizations in India who promote and facilitate employment for physically challenged people, but this was the first case I ever witnessed in India. This means a lot to the people who took pains to override the physical limitations and trained themselves to try to be at par with everyone else. We must have read or heard about such facilitation, watched movies and then appreciated and/or where touched by specific instances, but little gets done in the real world to promote employment for speech and hearing impaired people in the regular sector.

Last Saturday, I was with Sharad at Costa’s again and decided to talk to one of the store managers. We were sipping our iced coffee and keeping a watchful eye at the proceedings in the store. I noticed the two employees leaving the store, who had served me before and who were speech impaired. After some time, when the store was a lil easy on customer inflow, I raised my hand for the manager. When he came, he was for sure waiting for me to complain about something. It was evident from his watchful face and his denial to my offer of pulling a chair and sitting down. I told him that we are regular customers and we noted that they have employed some speech impaired (and probably hearing impaired) people. He came at ease and answered in affirmative.

Ankur: So, tell me about this initiative, is it specific to this particular location or is it all-stores wide?

Naresh: This has been launched by our franchise, which operates all Costa’s locations.

Ankur: That is Devyani International, right?

Naresh: Yes!

Ankur: So, how did this start?

Naresh: Not sure, maybe someone pressed the franchise to employ them

Ankur: No, it cannot be like that. I think may be someone in the management, felt a need for getting involved in such an initiative by promoting and facilitating employment for speech and hearing impaired people.

Naresh: Yes, may be something like that happened.

Ankur: So, is there any number specified for every store?

Naresh: Yes, every store has to have at least 2 employees

Ankur: I just saw them leaving the store. Was it the end for their shift?

Naresh: No, they have went to another location of ours, which is in Spice Mall, Sec 25

Ankur: Oh ok!

Naresh: We have been trained in basics of sign language so we can communicate easily with them

Ankur: Has it been any difficult for you or others?

Naresh: No, we have had no issues. And they are very good workers. One of them, Mohit, is very good at his work. It’s good that they got a chance to work here. These jobs do not demand someone who can speak. We can get our work done without speaking. Maybe in sales, they cannot be of value, but here they sure can do what is needed out of their job

Ankur: Yes, I agree with you.

Ankur: So, is there any other location around here where you have other such workers?

Naresh: Yes, we have a store in Green Park, Delhi. That store has all employees who are speech impaired. The store manager there is Devashish, who knows sign language, and he is the one who trained us in that.

Ankur: That’s good.

After this conversation, I thanked him and he left. Sharad wanted to leave for Green Park to check out that store. I was being lazy and decided against that.

I really hope that more and more companies/store owners come forward and open avenues for employment, where ever possible, for physically challenged people.

Right of Way

In India, I have always noted that the motorists here, do not have a perception of giving “right of way” to emergency vehicles.

Ambulances, fire brigades and other emergency vehicles keep blaring their sirens and “no sir, I will not let you pass” is what 99% of people say! This is ridiculous, considering the lives which are at stake somewhere. Traffic police never seems to be concerned with such violations. Well, when they don’t even care for other offences that seriously, why care about this thing?

I remember travelling with a client of ours (project team) who was here in India for attending some meetings. I was supposed to accompany him to the their India office in Noida from our office. All the time, I was trying to engage him in some conversation just to make sure that he is not terrified by seeing the rowdy traffic outside. I was quite successful in that, apart from some times when I was seeing a sense of  fright on his face 🙂 I guess, inside he must be always remembering God!