Underpass project stands on shaky ground

  • Hillary Victor, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Aug 20, 2014 10:55 IST

The much-touted project to construct eight underpasses in city stands on shaky ground as the engineering wing of municipal corporation (MC) has disregarded the complexities that a study tour report had raised seven years back.

The civic body, while giving the presentation on the underpasses recently, even overlooked Le Corbusier’s development plan to cope with the city’s growing traffic. Worse, the presentation did not even mention an alternative route for the 1.27 lakh vehicles that daily pass by the roundabout near Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISBT) in Sector 17.

The presentations were laid out in a meeting held last week to begin the process of constructing the underpasses.

Surprisingly, the official, while giving the presentation, made no mention of the study tour report, which was prepared and submitted in 2007.

The Chandigarh administration had spent lakhs of public money on the study tour of three government officials to Belgium (Brussels and Antwerp) and France (Paris) to understand concept, construction and maintenance of the underpasses so that world-class facility may be provided in city. These officers were the then finance secretary SK Sandhu, chief engineer VK Bhardwaj and chief architect Sunita Monga, who had submitted a 12-page report.

Also, Le Corbusier had given a four-phase development plan to cope with the city’s growing traffic. In the first phase, city was to have roundabouts, second phase included slip roads, third phase underpasses and fourth phase was to have overpasses. However, MC’s engineering wing overlooked both the study tour report and Le Corbusier’s development plan.

Surinder Bahga, architect and nominated councillor, said MC officials had not made any alternative arrangements for the 1.27 lakh vehicles which passed by the ISBT-17 roundabout. Besides, no attempt was made to co-relate Le Corbusier’s four-phase developmental plan for roundabouts, he added.

George Kuruvila, a leading Bangalore-based traffic planner who is now based in Chandigarh, said, “Chandigarh should avoid unnecessary flyovers and underpasses. Intelligent traffic planning, including synchronised traffic system, may be far more effective and cost efficient, as has been done in other similar gridiron pattern cities.”

He added, “I was involved in a similar project in Bangalore with far more complicated issues. The local administration there has spent ` 18,000 crore in three years since 2009, due to senseless planning. Worse, the traffic conditions are still terrible.”

When contacted, MC chief engineer Mukesh Anand said the project was at a nascent stage and they were working on some more details, before finalising it.

Despite spending lakhs on the study tour, the project has been hanging fire for the past seven years as Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) failed to budge despite having funds.

As a result, in November last year, UT administrator Shivraj V Patil entrusted MC with constructing the eight underpasses in various parts of city to ease traffic congestion.

However, even the civic body formed a committee for the project, headed by former mayor Pardeep Chhabra, only in April this year.


Underpasses in city will come up under the roundabouts to allow uninterrupted traffic movement.

In 2007, Chandigarh administration proposed underpasses at ISBT-17, Tribune Chowk, UT Press Chowk, Transport Chowk, Piccadilly Chowk, Kisan Bhawan, Matka Chowk and Cricket Stadium Chowk in Sector 16. It will take over a year to construct a single underpass at an estimated cost of ` 25 crore.

also read

HT Report Card: Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Show comments