When Deepak Singh, a young executive, bought a flat in one of the high-rises in Indirapuram in 2003, he was told widening of National Highway (NH) 24 was on the cards and the drive to Connaught Place will reduce to just 25 minutes in just two years. Four years down the line, Singh takes over one hour to reach his Barakhamba Road office every day.
While the volume of traffic on NH24 has increased manifold, the road width remains the same. The widening of the national highway from four- to eight-lane is going on at snail’s pace in East Delhi, the widening of its Ghaziabad section has yet to get the approval from the ministry of road, transport and highways. Poor road engineering has further worsened the situation.
The flyover near the Ghazipur landfill site is very wide up to the traffic intersection at Ghazipur. The small bridge over the drain and the road leading to Akshardham, however, is very narrow. “There are invariably 7-8 lanes of vehicles coming from Ghaziabad side, which merge into just two lanes on the bridge over Ghazipur drain as soon as the signal turns green, which leads to chaos. Sometimes, the queue of three-wheelers waiting for their turn for gas at the CNG station, little over 200m from the crossing, reduces the space available on the highway,” said a senior traffic police officer requesting anonymity.
“There is bumper to bumper traffic on the highway every morning. As we reach the Nizamuddin Bridge, we feel that a battle has been won. Travelling time has increased by 30-45 minutes,” said Rajeev Chandok, a resident of Mayur Vihar Phase II.
Cutting across various residential colonies, Vikas Marg is most widely used arterial road of East Delhi. While the number of road users are on the rise, the ongoing construction of Metro’s elevated section has reduced the road width of this arterial road causing long traffic jams, sometimes up to Anand Vihar.
“In morning hours, there is heavy volume of motorists coming out of colonies and merging with traffic on Vikas Marg. Then there are lot of two-wheelers on this stretch, which make traffic management little difficult,” said Suvashish Choudhury, Deputy Commissioner of Police-Traffic, New Delhi Range.
Joint Commissioner (Traffic), SN Shrivastava, however, said with the Metro completing the construction of pillars and removing barricades offering more “right of way” to motorists, things have started improving on Vikas Marg. But he agreed that wherever the construction of metro stations is on, the right of way is less causing bottlenecks.
GT Road in East Delhi is a classic example of the old world meeting new. While there are cars and two-wheelers, there is a sizeable presence of bicycles on this stretch making traffic movement slow. Movement of trucks and tempos after nine in the evening makes this stretch dangerous and chaotic. “There are thousands of cyclists and pedestrians on Shastri Nagar crossing, Seelampur junction and Keshav Chowk (Shyam Lal College crossing) during peak hours. At times it becomes very difficult to control them as they keep moving slowly despite the traffic coming from the other side. Controlling them is a major challenge,” added a traffic police officer.
But not enough measures have been taken to provide space to bicyclists and pedestrians. “There are no pedestrian foot overbridges of subways at important traffic intersections. The one constructed near Seelampur flyover is at a distance from the crossing and highly under-utilised,” said Pradeep Sharma, a resident of Dilshad Garden.
“A few decades back, east Delhi had a large number of bi-cycles. Over the years, vehicular population has increased but the transit roads are limited, which leads to congestion. Public transport too has remained limited making people to depend on their private vehicles thus leading to chaos on roads,” said Professor PK Sarkar, head — department of transport planning, School of Planning and Architecture.