Neglect: Filth, defunct escalators, broken tiles and anti-social elements keep most pedestrians away from the foot overbridges in Jangpura, Maharani Bagh, Hari Nagar and Munirka
Vibha Sharma and Sohil Sehran
In 2007, when several state-of-art Foot-overbridges (FOBs) were being planned, many felt relieved. It was to help children, senior citizens and the differently abled. However, the FOBs have failed to serve their purpose as most pedestrians are reluctant to use them. Poor maintenance at many FOBs have left the escalators non-functional, while many have fallen prey to vandalism due to lack of security staff . People can be seen urinating near these sites, making the surrounding filthy and stinky.
“When these FOBs were planned, it was expected that they would provide a safe passage to pedestrians on roads that witness heavy traffic. But they have turned out to be a waste of public money,” said a resident of the Jangpura Extension.
The facilities came up before the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The government spent around R 3.8 crore for FOBs with escalators the ones without escalator were for R1.3 crore. As Public Works Department (PWD) plans to construct more FoBs with escalators, HT South Delhi visits four FOBs to check their condition.
Hundreds of pedestrians use the bridge every day to cross the busy Lala Lajpat Rai Marg and a majority of them include people going to Jangpura Metro station (located at the backside of CGO complex). However, the shabby state of the facility raises questions over the maintenance by the authority. Garbage lines the bridge, the dirty and stinking escalator remains out of service most of the time, and, in the absence of security, most fitting and fixtures have been stolen.
“For the convenience of pedestrians, the authority has installed lifts on both the entrances, but these don’t work on most days. The corners facing the gates have turned into urinals and people entering or exiting have to cover their faces because of the stink,” said Girish Chawla, a resident of Jangpura who uses the bridge daily to reach the Metro station. The railings have ‘pan’ stains, making it impossible for anyone to hold them for support.
The lights are non-functional and it becomes completely dark in the night. “The light panels are lying unattended and open for days, this could lead to electrocution. The absence of guards has made the FOB unsafe and drug addicts and drunkards sit here in the late hours,” said Suddapa Abbas, who now avoids using the bridge now. The existing circumstances force pedestrians to risk their lives by crossing the busy road.
The area surrounding the FOB at Maharani Bagh has become a public toilet of sorts for many despite the fact there are four public toilets at a distance of 150 metres. The stink is unbearable for people waiting at the nearby bus stop and those using the FOB.
“The stench makes it difficult to walk on this FOB. Escalators are out of service most of the time which makes it difficult, especially for the senior citizens, to use it,” said Sufiyan Hassan, a commuter.
These public properties have also been defaced and one can find large advertisements covering the walls, making it shabbier.
Residents of Kalindi Colony said that the FOB is home to beggars and miscreants. At night, many drunkards can be spotted around the FOB, which raises a safety concern among all.
Hari Nagar (near Ashram Chowk)
The FOB here is not equipped with modern escalators has a crumbling infrastructure. The shopkeepers around it have made it a dumping site and sweepers clean it only once a week.
Prabjot Singh, 66, said, “Only a few people use the facility as it is easier to cross the road directly rather than climbing the stairs. A proposal of covering this bridge with polycarbonate sheet is pending since 2013. The administration has failed to maintain it.” Singh said the authorities should take inspiration fro the Delhi Metro, which is always clean as it is planned well.
Pedestrians also blame the faulty location of the FOB as another reason that prevents them from using the facility. “It is constructed close to the Ashram Chowk and far from the market. It is quite common to see people crossing the road near Hari Nagar flyover, which increases the chance of accidents,” said Ishita Malhotra, a resident of Lajpat Nagar.
DDA Flats, Munirka
The FOB opened three and a half years back and is already in shambles. Tiles on the staircases are crumbling and chances of people tripping or losing balance is always high. The lifts have not functioning for the last six months. The footpath to access the FOB is encroached upon and broken at places making it impossible to walk on. Residents have often complained of the increasing nuisance from the encroachment. Authorities have failed to remove the vendors on the footpath.
Pedestrians are concerned about their safety at FOB. “One of the entrances of FOB leads to a wine & beer shop in Munirka Market. So this place becomes a shelter for drunkards in the evenings and women can’t use the facility,” said Anupama Sharma, a resident of Vasant Vihar.
“The agency doesn’t maintains the site and garbage can be seen spilled all around the FOB. To highlight the issues we filed an RTI with the Public Works Department (PWD) last year. We questioned their negligence and they passed the buck on South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC). But as per our information the property belongs to PWD,” said Yudhister Sharma, RWA president, Munirka DDA flats. The situation has worsened to the extent that now no one bothers to remove debris at the entrance of the FOB which were dumped here last month.