iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Amit Kumar, Hindustan Times
Ghaziabad, July 15, 2013
The mere thought of travelling on the 22-km-long stretch of National Highway (NH) 24, between Dasna and UP Gate on Ghaziabad’s Delhi border, gives nightmares to drivers. The highway is clogged 24x7 and long traffic jams have become routine. And the reasons are aplenty. One of them is the lack of police presence on roads, not only to manage traffic but also to check undisciplined drivers. “I have to wait for an hour at the traffic signal at Crossings Republik as there is no constable to regulate the traffic. It takes me two-three hours to travel on this 22-km during peak hours,” said Ashok Singh, a doctor, who travels from Hapur to Delhi for work.

And not only is the width of the highway small — one carriageway is just two-lane wide — but there are far too many intersections and nothing by way of flyovers or underpasses to ensure seamless movement of traffic.

Many also blamed locals who cut through dividers for an easy way of access. “Many times, the administration carries out repair work on the central verge to stop illegal U-turns, but local commuters cut the divider as per their own convenience to make their movement hassle-free. Many such dividers have been cut on the stretch near Khoda colony,” said Praveen Singh, a resident of Indirapuram.

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Ghaziabad today is known for its undisciplined drivers who don’t think before parking their vehicles just about anywhere. Chief among these violators are drivers of both seven-seater and three-seater autos. They halt anywhere to pick and drop passengers, causing traffic bottlenecks. And the fact that there’s hardly anyone on the road to regulate them only emboldens them into breaking more rules.

Also, a number of villages dot Ghaziabad. Many a time, farmers on their slow-moving tractors tend to hold the traffic. Frequent breakdowns of vehicles and zero authority intervention are also to blame.

People also say that NH-24 has no more remained a highway. “It’s a city road as several smaller roads directly open on to it,” said Anurag Khandelwal, a local planner. The fact that shared autos are allowed to ply on a highway gives credence to this belief.

Meanwhile, it is the residents of the city who are suffering. Business too has been hit due to perennial jams.

Businessmen based in the Bulandshahar road industrial area claim they have lost out on many lucrative deals because of poor connectivity with the national capital.

“If one is competing with companies situated in Faridabad or Gurgaon, the client will choose the Ghaziabad-based company the last. These jams have eaten into our business for there is no guarantee of delivery of goods in time, which dents our business credentials,” said Anil Gupta, president, Ghaziabad Industries Association. “Moreover, we always hesitate to call our clients to our offices as due to the jams, they may miss their flights or trains,” he added.

Yet despite facing traffic ordeals from 9am to 9pm almost every day, eternal optimists still remain in the city. “I still hope that one day the authorities will wake up to relieve daily commuters of these jams, thereby saving hundreds of litres of precious fuel lost every day,” said NS Bisht, who lives at Crossings Republik.