In the run up to the Commonwealth Games, Delhi has become a mega construction site with flyovers, Metro Rail, the bus corridor and underpasses coming up across the capital. The crippling traffic snarls that these constructions have unleashed on the city has meant ambulances carrying critical patients are getting stuck in jams, people are missing their flights, students are getting late for school and Delhiites are altering their lifestyle to accommodate three hours for traveling in their busy schedule.
“Patients, especially those coming from Mehrauli area, are facing huge inconvenience and delays while reaching our hospital due to the ongoing construction work,” said a spokesperson of Safdarjung Hospital. The hospital’s ambulances get stuck at the Hauz Khas, Green Park and Yusuf Sarai traffic intersections before patients can get emergency medical care. At Aurobindo Marg, next to which both Safdarjung and AIIMS stand, construction for Delhi Metro’s Central Secretariat-Gurgaon stretch has choked traffic.
Shushanto Bannerjee, a resident of Noida Sector 56, recently missed his flight to Pune as he was stuck in a traffic snarl on the Outer Ring Road. “I had not visited this area for a long time and had no clue that there would be so much traffic. The vehicles weren’t just moving,” he said. Construction of three flyovers on this stretch has gobbled up road space and air passengers are facing the brunt. People working at the IGI Airport and using this road have started leaving their homes half an hour early to reach office on time.
The story is similar everywhere in Delhi, only the nature of construction changes. While the Delhi Metro has taken up road space at many places, the Public Works Division is building flyovers and underpasses on other arterial roads. The Bus Rapid Transit corridor on Jossip Broz Tito Marg in an example of bad construction management practices.
While waiting for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to deliver them from this mess, Delhiites have started changing their lifestyle with the altering and narrowing contours of the capital’s roads. Subhash Singh, an account manager, has stopped taking his morning walks or reading the newspaper. “Those are luxuries in which I cannot indulge anymore. Reaching Connaught Place from Munirka used to be a breeze, now it’s a battle due to the ongoing construction,” he said.
Sachin Sapra added half an hour extra to his travel time every morning after he started missing court hearings regularly. “The Naraina stretch has become a nightmare and the traffic simply crawls,” he said.
There are three major bottlenecks in the city where life has come to a standstill because of the ongoing construction projects.
Outer Ring Road
On the outer ring road, construction for three flyovers – at Old JNU Campus, Munirka and Rao Tula Ram Marg has eaten up a lot of carriageway. The merging traffic from Africa Avenue, R.K. Puram, Nelson Mandela Marg and Vasant Vihar only adds to the chaos.
“Faulty barricading sees that width of the carriageway keeps changing along the stretch Problem increases during peak hours when two-wheelers and cars suddenly swarm the entire area and each motorist tries to outsmart the other,” said Jayant Kumar Saxena, who drives to Nehru Place office from Dwarka daily.
While commuters question the government’s logic behind constructing three flyovers simultaneously, residents in neighbouring colonies wonder if the projects would actually help in any way.
“The Outer Ring Road-Rao Tula Ram Marg T-point is the most stressed point as motorists from various south Delhi colonies as well as central Delhi heading to Gurgaon, Palam and Dwarka use this road. A single carriageway flyover is planned here. But going by the increasing traffic volumes, there should be a double carriageway flyover,” said Romi Chopra, president, Vasant Vihar RWA.
Traffic on Ring Road comes to a halt as it nears the Naraina village in southwest Delhi due to under-construction flyover at the T-junction. “The wide ring road suddenly narrows at Naraina village. Zig zag road and shops along the road make it claustrophobic. Motorists tend to slow down,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) S.N. Shrivastava.
An important link for those headed towards south Delhi from western and north-western part of the city, the Naraina crossing witnesses long queue of vehicles almost for the entire day.
“It is indeed a problem area. Heavy machinery has occupied large space. We get lot of complaints from hassled commuters on this stretch. There is one particular gentleman who calls me everyday as soon as he encounters snarl,” said Rupinder Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic, Southern Range).
Daily commuters, however, feel simple measures could have improved traffic management on this stretch. “Those vehicles coming out of Naraina (Maruti work shop) and headed towards Maya Puri can be diverted towards Kirti Nagar and can merge on Ring Road at Mayapuri flyover. Similarly, Naraina bound traffic coming from Dhaula Kuan side should be asked to take a turn under Mayapuri flyover to either go to Kirti Nagar or come back to Naraina T junction,” said Subrata Lahiri, a resident of Rohini Sector13.
Virtually the entry point to Delhi for all commercial vehicles coming from Haryana, Punjab and Jammu Kashmir, Mukerba Chowk is one of the most chaotic stretches in Delhi. Construction of a flyover and four cloverleaves to facilitate signal free movement has worsened the situation these days.
Though the intersection has heavy load of vehicles, traffic snarls begin in the evening and continue till late night. Vehice pile-up can often be seen up to one kilometer on both GT Road and well as outer Ring Road. Motorists said they have often spent 1-2 hours in crawling traffic here.
Though the public works department has constructed four slip roads around the project to transfer the load of vehicles leaving just the intersection to take up construction in full swing, it has helped little.
“The slip roads are very narrow to take up such high volume of vehicular movement. No wonder the PWD is yet to implement its plan of closing straight movement of traffic on this intersection and transferring vehicular movement on slip roads,” said Devender Singh Jatav, a resident of Burari.
According to traffic police, major traffic diversions are in offing to ease out traffic movement at Mukerba Chowk. “A road is being developed, which will take heavy vehicles coming from Singhu Border straight to Burari and Wazirabad via Palla and Bakhtawarpur. Similarly, the road leading to Rajiv Gandhi Transport Nagar from GT Karnal Road is being widened and T-junction being redesigned to improve traffic movement,” Shrivastava informed.