Every time a heavy vehicle crosses the Defence Colony Flyover, Shaheen Haider’s eating joint rattles. Haider’s eatery is one of the several shops in the market that have been complaining of “heavy vibrations” ever since the Public Works Department (PWD) carried out repair at the flyover two months ago.
“The window glasses in my shop start shaking every time a heavy vehicle hits the flyover. Even the customers coming to my shop have started pointing out. We did not face this problem before,” says Haider.
The market, which was established in 1978, has 353 shops. It is often hailed as a model for optimal utilization of space under flyovers. However, most shopkeepers here feel scared that the persisting vibrations could cause serious damage. They say that vibrations have started scaring away customers and have hit their business.
I have been in market for last 30 years but things have never turned so bad. My shop is right under the expansion joint and I can feel vibrations every time a heavy vehicle crossed the stretch. This has affected our business and we also fear for our life. There are shop owners/eateries which are planning to shift from this place.- Sonia Kumar, boutique owner
“It is particularly bad during the peak hours. This affects our business as people fear for their life and avoid coming to place. At times my customers point out the vibrations in shop,” said Vikram Mehra, a shop owner in the market.
Shopkeepers claim that when they approached PWD with the problem, they were told that there had been a flaw in repair work. “The officials told us that the problem was due to flaws in fixing of bridge by the contractor assigned by PWD,” said Harvinder Singh, a shopkeeper at the Defence Colony Flyover Market. “The officials said that the filling used at expansion joints was renewed during the repairs. However, instead of metal, they had used rubber this time. It made the slabs uneven leading to vibrations,” said Singh.
Shopkeepers claim that PWD officials had promised to consult the Centre for Road Research Institute (CRRI) to fix the problem. However, on being questioned, PWD officials refused to admit that there were any vibrations and said that a letter had been written to CRRI but only to improve the quality of the road. “The work is up to the mark and if any vibrations are being felt by the shopkeepers, it must be due to the underground metro rail on this stretch,” an official said.
A senior DMRC official, however, denied the PWD’s claim. “The metro line was laid here about seven years ago and we never received any complaint from the locals. People started noticing the vibrations only after PWD completed the repair work,” he said.
The shopkeepers, meanwhile, are looking for alternatives. Some of them are even considering the option of leaving the market. “I am thinking of leaving this market as the footfall has come down by 50%. Despite being in a posh area, the condition here is getting worst. After the recent repairs, cracks have appeared at some places in my shop,” said an eatery-owner who did not want to be named.
The agency didn’t even remove the debris from the market after repairing the flyover. It can still be seen lying in open verandah. After PWD completed the work, we had to arrange money from our pockets to replace broken tiles in market. - Vikram Mehra, member, Defence Colony Flyover Market Association
A senior scientist from CSIR-CRRI said, “I have not visited the place but if the shopkeepers are observing frequent vibrations with the passing of vehicles at the expansion joints, it means the structure (flyover) may have some problem. On the other hand if the vehicles are creating noise after passing the expansion joints, this shows the installation work has not been done properly.”
The repair work, which was started by the civic agency in April, had continued till September. The agency spent ₹3 crore on changing the bearings, repairing extension joints and back slabs at the flyover.
Sonia Kumar who has been running a boutique in the market for the last 30 years also said that the repair work had affected her business badly. “When the agency carried out the repair work, the whole market was in a shambles. Even after the completion of work, they didn’t remove the debris or repair the damaged floor. Ultimately, we had to collect money and arrange for new tiles,” she said.