The long wait for completion of Sarita Vihar underpass seems to have turned out to be worthless. The initial excitement of commuters using the route is fizzling out with each passing day. The ambitious project, which had promised to reduce travelling time between Noida and south Delhi, is now being blamed for increasing traffic congestion. The six-lane underpass covers a 1.09km-long stretch. The merging of traffic on narrow connecting roads results in chaos due to unsystematically parked vehicles on both sides of the road.
It should ideally take 15 -20 minutes to reach Tara Apartment from Sarita Vihar (five kilometres) via Okhla Estate Marg. However, because of the parked vehicles at the beginning of Okhla Industrial area, the vehicles slow down, ultimately spreading chaos in the region.
“The real problem starts as one crosses the traffic signal before Kalkaji Extension Apartments (near Maa Anandamayee Marg). The entire area is thickly populated and commercialsied. There are innumerable shops and godowns on both sides of the two-lane road. And cars belonging to the shopkeepers being parked haphazardly are a common sight. Even as one goes towards Maa Anandamayee Marg, which connects the underpass with the rest of south Delhi, it is heavily congested with roadside parking and illegal encroachments,” says SK Ahuja, Alaknanda resident.
“To add to the problem, the divider is also damaged and people cross the road carelessly. Ultimately, it takes more than 30 minutes to get out of this jam. The entire purpose of construction of underpass to save the commuting time has become futile. It is important that the concerned authority should look for widening of the road facing Kalkaji Extension area or construct an elevated road to resolve the problem,” said Yatin Kaushik, another resident of Alaknanda who uses the stretch every day to reach his office in Noida.
A senior traffic police official said that residents of nearby localities park their vehicles on the road. The police challan the defaulters and also tow away their vehicles. “After the residents complained, we towed away such vehicles in the past, but people started parking their cars on the spot after some time. We also seize rickshaws that create obstructions,” he said.
The situation is nowhere different on the other side of underpass connecting to Noida. “Soon after crossing the underpass, traffic flows on to a fairly congested G D Birla Marg that leads up to Kalindi Kunj. The traffic coming from Jasola also merges here adding to the volume. The uneven and damaged GD Birla Marg is another cause of worry, as it slows down the speed of vehicles. Due to encroachments and congestion, vehicles going towards Noida or returning from there through the underpass get trapped in long traffic jams,” said Ranjan Kumar, a resident of Sarita Vihar.
According to him, the service lane (near L block) which connects Sarita Vihar to the traffic signal (near underpass), has been damaged for a long time and nothing has been done to repair it.