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Judgment day for BRT corridor

delhi Updated: Apr 26, 2008 00:31 IST

The government people for the controversial Bus Rapid Transport system, say it is good for the city, give it some time and that people will have to live with it, after a few additions.

Those against it in the government, however, are looking for an exit. A Delhi government minister asked, “What should be done with this — how can we get out.” That’s the thinking.

On Saturday, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit chairs a meeting of the BRT stakeholders to decide whether the government should give in to popular sentiment and dump it, or continue with it irrespective.

Those close to the discussions in the government said, “This is going to be a political decision – if the decision goes against the system, it will take us two days to remove the structures built on the 5.8-km stretch.”

The first stretch of the controversial system — from Ambedkar Nagar to Moolchand in south Delhi — has run into trouble in the testing stage, causing huge traffic jams and problems for pedestrians.

First, the pro-BRT side. At a seminar Friday evening Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta said, “We will construct two or three foot-overbridges or subways to make it easier for pedestrians.”

That’s an admission of persisting engineering defects in the system. The chief secretary then said, “Gives us a chance and cooperate with us. If you don’t like it (BRT system), we will try something else.”

Sanjee Sahai, managing director of the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System, a public-private joint venture that will run the BRT system, said, “Don’t judge the system by speed of vehicles… This system is for rapid bus movement… Take a bus if you are in a hurry.”

They were at a seminar with office-bearers of Resident Welfare Associations. The questions ranged between hostile and complimentary – and the officials defended the BRT.

But the big day is on Saturday when the CM presides over a meeting to decide the fate of the system. This is an election year and the government is unlikely to test people’s patience beyond a point.

Dikshit has said that if the people of Delhi don’t want it, she will not hesitate to scrap the whole project, which, if it goes through, will cover most arterial roads of the Capital.

As of now, the jury is out.