Delhi’s plotted colonies are making space for more people — by growing vertically. But as they grew, what they did not take into account was the need for more parking space. Three-four families live in one multi-storeyed house in east Delhi’s plotted colonies and each family has more than one car, increasing vehicular congestion on the colony roads. All through the day, especially during mornings and afternoons, colony roads are clogged with vehicles, plaguing its residents.
Anil Mahajan is one such harried resident of Anand Vihar. Every day, he has to struggle to take out his vehicle from the colony on his way to work. Morning and afternoon hours are the worst, when school buses and vans are on the road to pick or drop children, he says. Teachers, students and parents park their cars and two-wheelers on the road near schools, leaving little space for others.
Residents say, the situation has gone from bad to worse within a span of a few years. Most colonies saw a spurt in population when cozy single or two-floor bungalows paved way for three- or four-storeyed builder flats.
“It’s a vicious circle of development. Colonies have to grow vertically to accommodate more people. However, at the same time, this growth is making our lives miserable. We have to stay in the house during school hours due to traffic congestion outside. And if your children get delayed by even 10 minutes, when returning from school or tuition, we get restless though we can do little about it. Major and minor accidents on colony roads have now become a regular affair,” said Supriya Sathe of Anand Vihar. Other localities such as Preet Vihar and Srestha Vihar too are facing similar problems.
Most vehicles that come to pick or drop school children are parked on colony roads. Sometimes, they even block the gates of many houses. Most residents of colonies such as Preet Vihar, Gagan Vihar, Surajmal Vihar, Dayanand Vihar, Shrestha Vihar and Anand Vihar among others complain that colony roads are choc-a-block with traffic from 7am to 8.30am and then from 12.30 to 2.30 in the afternoon.
“The congestion problem is even more severe in colonies such as Preet Vihar and Nirman Vihar, which are used by people from other colonies as a thoroughfare. I have often spent more than 15 minutes negotiating the Preet Vihar main road to reach Madhuban,” said Neelima Dey, a resident of Defence Enclave.
Young men and teenagers, usually without licences, are often seen zooming around in their cars or bikes and are mostly responsible for the rising accidents on colony roads.
Adding to the chaos on roads is the pile up of construction material. “Constant construction by the builder mafia is shrinking the roads. Wrongly parked cars of residents only adds to the problem. We have complained about these issues to the civic body several times, but most of our complaints have fallen on deaf ears,” said a resident of Kiran Vihar
Moreover, hardly anyone complies with the stilt parking rule. The ground floor of most houses are being used for every other purpose, except parking.
SS Yadav, East Delhi Municipal Corporation Commissioner, said, “If somebody is violating building laws, we can always take action. But shortage of manpower prevents any suo moto action on our part. Somebody needs to lodge a complaint, be it an individual, police or the RWA.”
Rising Accidents: her face was ripped open in collision with speeding minor
Five-year-old Venya Mehta could not speak properly for a week after she and her father Pradeep met with an accident on September 11.
It was around 8pm when a speeding two-wheeler driven by a minor hit the duo. Mehta and her father were on their way to the nearby Ram temple.
“During the fall, her face was ripped open and she bled profusely. She had injuries in her face, jaw and knees. Her face swelled up after the accident,” said a neighbour. Mehta’s father, however, escaped with relatively minor injuries.
Residents say Mehta’s was not a stray incident. Such accidents in the colony have become quite frequent and a majority of them involve minors on two-wheelers. Anand Vihar residents have been demanding speed-breakers on colony roads and strict restrictions on minors driving two-wheelers, but nothing has been so far.
“Since going to police would not resolve the problem, I preferred not to report the accident,” said Pradeep, who works in a private company.
After a week of the accident, Mehta went to school. But her teachers sent her back with the advice to take rest till her wounds were completely healed. “I now panic whenever I see two-wheelers on colony roads,” the Class I student said.
Inadequate Parking: little space mean people park cars on road, footpath
Not age, but red tape has stopped 75-year-old SD Chawla from fighting for his colony. Sometimes the septuagenarian knocks on the doors of administrative offices, and sometimes takes the route of RTI, but nothing helps.
He says there are several reasons behind the traffic congestion in Dayanand Vihar, one which is the conversion of the neighbourhood school into a senior secondary school without making adequate space for parking. “Also, an unauthorised eatery has occupied the road, there is piling up of building materials on the footpath and road as well as illegal parking of vehicles inside the colony,” said Chawla, secretary of the Dayanand Vihar Cooperative Housing Building Society Ltd.
Complained Renu Goel, another resident, “Our main entry-exit road gets affected due to the school. We have to struggle to commute on the road, which remains packed during morning and afternoon.”
Of the 275-odd plots in the colony, more than 20 per cent have grown upwards disproportionately. Once single or double-storeyed, many buildings now house at least three to four floors, each of which is home to a different family. “And almost every family in this society has one or more cars. With no space to park them, people park them on footpaths and roads,” Chawla said.