Status: Final Evaluation Report submitted via press conference
Year of Completion: 2017
In 2009, as a response to growing congestion caused by school-bound traffic in the city of Panaji, the state government decided to set up a centralised school complex in Cujira, a village along the National Highway, around 7 km away from the city. 6 high enrolment schools, and one college from the city of Panaji were allotted land admeasuring 10,000 sq meters each in an area master-planned as an “Integrated Education Complex”
WHY EVALUATE THIS PROJECT
Over 6000 people commute to and from the Centralised School Complex (CSC) at Cujira, everyday. This is a significant number of people to be managed, in a city that is already facing traffic woes.
It is also understood, in development and planning theory, that schools located in the immediate neighbourhood positively contribute to the overall quality of life and ease of living of the residents. The implications of relocating 6 highly populated schools from within the city to a village in the outskirts needs to be studied.
Perhaps the biggest motivation to evaluate the Centralised School Complex as a strategy is the fact that the concept is now mooted to be replicated in other cities of Goa including Margao, Vasco and Ponda. Land has been identified in Margao at Davorlim and the process of selecting schools is underway. It is critical at this juncture to evaluate the effectiveness of the complex in the context of urban centres of Goa. Hasty and
misguided implementation of the concept could turn disastrous for these cities, where the school-bound traffic to the proposed complex could choke major arterial roads.
Map showing the density of students’ places of residence (red) as well as schools situated in the vicinity of the residential neighbourhoods (blue)
This graph shows the change in distance from school to home before, and after relocation to the CSC.
On average, the relocation of schools to the CSC has led to an increase in the commute time of the average student of these schools. When extrapolated over larger periods,
the amount of additional time spent commuting is significant.
This time spent commuting, could be better utilised on priority tasks for the child such as getting additional sleep and giving the child more time to eat a healthy breakfast.
The shift to the CSC has however led to a decrease (67% to 59%) in the number of parents opting to use single-occupancy vehicles (SOV’s) to take their children to school.
Infographic comparing the road space required for different modes of commute.
The need for upgradation of infrastructure in schools is real. So too is the increasing congestion in cities due to schools, especially applicable in the case of Panaji. However, the strategy of relocating city schools to a Centralised Complex outside the city is questionable. In the case of Panaji, the idea was conceived and implemented in haste, and no due consideration was given to the larger effects that such a move would have on the city.
The research findings indicate that the Cujira Centralised School Complex is not potent enough to curb the school-related traffic congestion in the city. In such a case, its validity as a genuine strategy for other cities stands questioned.
• In case of Panaji, not only has the Centralised School Complex not managed to bring down the intensity of vehicular congestion by much, but it has also ended up creating new choke points, along the National Highway en route to the complex.
• The location of the Centralised School Complex in the outskirts of the city (which, it may be assumed, would be the case in most real-estate starved Indian cities) puts an immense burden on parallel systems such as public transportation.
• Furthermore, as the research indicates, congestion depends as much on the availability of multiple commute modes as it does on the mindset of the population. Thus, simple relocation and co-location of schools is not a viable option.
• Many of the identified issues could have been dealt with through interventions at the existing school premises and not relocation. In fact, relocation has created new problems such as the mass movement of people to the CSC during school peak hours, additional commute times and financial burden on the students.
Perhaps the most alarming fact is that this model is mooted to be replicated across cities in Goa such as Margao, Ponda, Mapusa and Vasco and possibly in other parts of India. It is reasonable to assume that the Centralised School Complex will create similar issues in these cities, which have a character congruent to that of Panaji. The CSC in these cities will inevitably end up becoming costly, inefficient white elephant projects, having drawn major funding for failed attempts at decongestion. If the Centralised School Complex must, in fact, be set up, it must only be done after the relevant parallel services
and systems, such as public transport, dedicated school buses for the complex, etc. are in place. However, it may be noted that rationalisation and strengthening of the existing services may eliminate the need to relocate schools to outskirts in the first place.
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