The loss of a life in a freak accident at PandM Mall on Monday night has again brought into perspective a traffic management plan that was sought but never planned.
The traffic management and parking in and around the only mall in the state capital on the two-lane Patliputra-Kurji road is in a quagmire. Former Patna city superintendent of police (SP) Shivdeep Lande had said in August last year illegally parked vehicles around the mall would be towed away. But nothing much happened after that. A year on, traffic remains chaotic with visitors parking their vehicles in undesignated parking areas near the mall.
Sergeant major (traffic) Anil Kumar told The Telegraph: "Traffic has been a problem around the mall owing to the wrongly parked vehicles. We are short of personnel but things will improve. Within a week, we will depute more constables for smooth traffic movement."
Last August, the Patna police had sent two reminders to the mall administration, asking them to make alternative arrangements once the basement parking lot was full. Thereafter, the mall management had requested Patliputra Cooperative Society for help. But nothing materialised.
On Monday night, a state government official's SUV hit Suresh Prasad (45), a businessman, and his daughter, Khushi (14), at the entrance of the mall's basement parking lot. Prasad died in the course of treatment, while his daughter is battling for life in a nursing home.
Patna city SP Jayant Kant said: "It is a case of rash driving. The police have identified the driver and he will be arrested."
Sources said the driver was alone in the SUV and fled after the incident.
Earlier, the mall management had told The Telegraph that they had parking facilities for 600 cars and 1,000 bikes. However, today, none of the management officials was ready to take questions or speak on the parking issue. When contacted, manager Vivek Mishra said he could not comment on anything over phone.
"The mall charges Rs 10 for parking on its premises. But visitors deliberately park their vehicles on the road outside to avoid paying the fee," said a police officer, preferring anonymity.
"The traffic on the 5-km Patliputra-Kurji road passing by the mall remains clogged, especially in the afternoon, when classes at St Michael's High School, Don Bosco Academy and Notre Dame Academy get over. Students board buses and autorickshaws on the narrow road on which two-wheelers and cars remain parked haphazardly everyday," said Anant Kumar Sharma, a Kurji resident.
The Telegraph had a first-hand experience of the chaos on the road around 1.30pm on Tuesday.
Traffic on the entire 5-km stretch of the road moved at a snail's pace. The illegally parked vehicles narrowed the road down with autos carrying children stuck for hours in the muggy heat.
Abhay Singh, whose son studies at St Michael's High School, said: "This is a daily phenomenon. Hundreds of two-wheelers are parked on the entire stretch. Some mall visitors are responsible for this. This needs to be addressed because the students reach home very late at times."