Bimla Sondhi gets Monday evening blues. The medical superintendent of Jeevan Anmol Hospital — one of the two main private hospitals in Mayur Vihar-Phase I — worries about critical patients getting stuck in the makeshift market that covers the road outside, every Monday evening.
“The shops come up to the hospital gate. Doctors in the evening shift have to struggle to enter. I shudder at the thought of disaster striking east Delhi on Monday. How will patients enter the hospital, and how will our doctors and ambulance go out?”
Much as it annoys Sondhi, the weekly market is very popular among residents of Mayur Vihar. Not surprisingly, the hospital’s pleas to the police, to regulate the market and keep the approach road open, have been to no avail.
Genesis of the problem
Way back in the late ’70s, Mayur Vihar was one of the few well-planned residential colonies to be set up by Delhi Development Authority (DDA).
It was developed to cater to the urban middle class population of the city. DDA built over 11,000 flats to cater to a population of approximately 65,000.
But, somewhere down the line, shortsighted planning by the development agency made the dream of a ‘perfect residential colony’ go sour.
The population of Mayur Vihar — phases I, II and III — increased beyond expectation. It stands at nearly seven lakh today. With not enough space to accommodate the growing numbers, unauthorised colonies sprang up overnight, surrounding the residential colonies.
Rampant commercialisation followed, bringing with it a host of problems like clogged roads, traffic snarls and the parking mess. With civic agencies turning a blind eye, the residents of this once well-planned colony have now been left to fend for themselves.
The root cause of the problem residents face today lies in DDA’s failure to provide enough commercial complexes to cater to a growing population.
The DDA shopping centres were small and inadequate to meet the need of the local population. This resulted in the mushrooming of unauthorised markets like Acharya Niketan.
“They helped meet the local needs, but because they came up in an unplanned way, they created problems like traffic snarls and congestion within colony roads,” said OP Sehgal, resident of Pocket 3, Mayur Vihar-Phase I.
Residents say it has become difficult to navigate the road leading to Acharya Niketan market in Phase-I during evening hours.
This has happened in many residential colonies of the city, and Mayur Vihar is no exception.
A park inside a DDA housing society in Pocket-I, Mayur Vihar-Phase III, was converted into a parking lot to accommodate vehicles of residents.
“We did not want it. It was one of the few green spaces we had. The children played there. But we did not have a choice. The road outside the colony is so narrow. Residents could not have parked their vehicles outside the colony gate and blocked the road,” said C Shashidharan, resident of Sunshine Apartments in Pocket-I, Mayur Vihar-Phase-III.
In fact, parking is one of the major problems faced by residents across Mayur Vihar. DDA officials, as usual, continue to be nonchalant. According to them, at the time the societies came up, they had provided for roughly one car park for every eight flats. “We did not foresee that everybody would own a car,” said a DDA official who did not want to be named.
It is one the main ripple effects of rampant commercialisation in Mayur Vihar.
“With malls and shopping centres coming up, the vehicular traffic has increased manifold. This has resulted in massive traffic snarls during peak evening hours in the area. Venturing out of the colony gates during that period become very hazardous,” said Subimal Choudhury, president, Samachar Housing Society, Mayur Vihar-Phase I.