It has already been proved that the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor had flaws in its design. Its implementation was equally poor. Hence, the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government decided to get rid of it. However, the ongoing dismantling is also in a state of chaos. The process to take it apart began on January 18 by the Public Works Department (PWD) and was to finish by February-end. The decision brought relief to thousands of motorists, but the work is yet to be completed. What has irked commuters most is the slow pace of work and poor traffic management. PWD officials claim the work is slow due to heavy traffic on the road.
The process of turning the 5.8km corridor (from Moolchand to Ambedkar Nagar) to a regular road has made travelling on this stretch a painful experience.
No cautionary signages
The scrapping of BRT corridor was estimated at a cost of around Rs 12 crores. However, except for a small cautionary signboard — ‘Move slow, demolition work in progress’ put up by the Delhi traffic police — there are no readable signages placed to guide motorists. Even this board is installed too high up on a pole and is hardly noticeable. Also, with the demolition of lanes and bus stops, the road has widened. Even though the process is on for three months, no space has been demarcated for pedestrians to cross the road.
“There is utter confusion on the road. Authorities should mark spaces for pedestrian crossings temporarily. The traffic moves fast here. And suddenly a group of people appear in the middle of the moving vehicles to cross the road, making it dangerous for both the motorists and the pedestrians,” said Raghav Chaudhry, a regular commuter.
There are gaps in the median and people cross and drive on the wrong side through this, disrupting the flow of traffic and increasing the risk of accidents. Also, the uneven patches are risky, especially for two-wheeler riders. People as well as vehicles can be seen using the gap to cross over to the other carriageway in the middle of the heavy traffic. A number of accidents have been reported due to this.
“Recently, a motorcycle-borne man, crossing the road through the gap, had a head-on collision with another vehicle resulting in a serious injury. There have been other accidents on the stretch. They should have closed the gaps during the dismantling work. As the process is taking a long time, why not make the road safer for users?” said Vijender Singh, president of Ambedkar Nagar RWA.
Also, while workers have removed the kerbstones, the nails on which they were fixed are still there. These have led to many punctures. “It is difficult to move around, especially for two-wheelers as these skid easily, overturn on the exposed nails. We are forced to ride slowly on the stretch because of nails,” said Gaurav Khanna, a commuter.
Lack of coordination
The chaos on the ground has thrown light on the poor coordination between PWD and traffic police. The traffic officials claimed that they are mostly unaware of the plan and the work being taken up. On the other hand, PWD officials claim to have informed PWD about the plan a month in advance. Though traffic marshals are stationed at major intersections, including Sadiq Nagar, Chirag Dilli, Sheikh Sarai, Madangir and Khanpur, no extra personnel have been deployed to guide the traffic here in the absence of marked crossings. According to the police, they had proposed a traffic management and overall modification plan ahead of the dismantling, but the proposals are yet to be reviewed by PWD and the transport department.
Traffic snarls continue
With the widening of road space, the traffic moves faster here. However, this has not helped ease out congestion during peak hours. This is mainly because of poor planning and little implementation. The traffic movement is chaotic, as it is not controlled and people violate the lanes. There are major jams at the Chirag Dilli intersection, which is worsened by motorists jumping to the cycle tracks and then trying to merge in the traffic, in order to cut down travel time.
Even heavy vehicles, including DTC buses, can be seen taking the cycle tracks, leading to a major pile up, as these manoeuvre through the comparatively narrow lane to get out to the main carriageway. Merging of commercial vehicles on the track also increases chances of accidents as a large number of people working in factories at nearby Khanpur and Sangam Vihar commute on bicycles here. Moreover, layers of illegally parked vehicles along the road add to the chaos and congestion.
The situation is also bad near Sainik Farms where there is no facility for a U-turn or even a signal for those coming from Mehrauli-Badarpur Road.
No room for pedestrians
While carrying the demolition, workers dumped debris and heavy boulders on the pavements, leaving no room for pedestrians and forcing them to tread along the busy road. The debris and waste have been ruthlessly dumped on the vegetation on the tracks, killing the plants. Locals said a number of trees were uprooted.
“The dismantling work from Madangir to Harishchandra crossing has been completed but traffic continues to hold up during peak hours because of haphazard movement and sudden slowing down. Also, malba has not been removed from the walkways and there are no signals or barricading to control the traffic,” said Devinder Kumar, a resident of Madangir.