After almost a year, the Public Works Department (PWD) has resumed the road widening project starting from Andheria Mor to Fortis Hospital in Vasant Kunj. In February 2013, the PWD began work on the road, but due to a dispute over felling of trees and cases filed by residents, the project was stalled in June 2015. A few months ago, PWD minister Satyender Jain reviewed the project and issued directions to resume work here, said PWD officials.
A senior PWD official said though the court cases are still going on in the Delhi high court, the court hasn’t issued any ‘stay order’ hence the work began. “The court has issued a slew of directions. We are adhering to them and carrying out the work on the basis of the initial plan approved by the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC),” he said.
Uneven, dug up, and poorly designed road has been causing inconvenience to commuters. With no central verge, commuters take a U-turn at any point and violate traffic norms. The poor state of affairs prompted the agency to restart the work.
“We followed up with the Delhi government and after getting a positive feedback, we appointed a new contractor and tender was awarded to him a few months back,” said the PWD official. The agency is expecting to complete the work by the end of this year. Once the work is completed, people can expect a hassle-free ride on this 1.5km stretch.
According to MLA Naresh Yadav, “The widening of road will prove to be a boon for thousands of commuters using the stretch every day.”
Development work that needs to be carried out
The ongoing work comes under Phase I of PWD’s project while Phase II is in planning stage. The cost of Phase I is approximately Rs 58 crore (which includes cost of land acquisition and shifting public utilities/services). Out of this, Rs 2 crore is to be paid to power discoms for shifting of electricity wires.
The project includes widening of the road (on the basis of availability of land) into six lanes, construction of central verge, plantation of trees, footpath and dense carpeting of the whole stretch till Andheria Mor. “The patch from Vasant Kunj to Andheria Mor will be carpeted soon after monsoon. Meanwhile, the plantation drive on roadsides and central verge is already on,” said the official.
Regarding the acquisition of 100 metres of land near the Harcharan Bagh, the PWD has also filed a petition in court. “While coming from Vasant Kunj to Andheria Mor, the road narrows at a point (near Harcharan Bagh) and that’s why we filed petition in court seeking acquisition of 100 metres of the land that belongs to the colony for widening of the main road.”
Residents of nearby areas have mixed opinion about the project. “I have had doubts regarding the project since its conception. As per the UTTIPEC norms, an agency can’t construct a road of more than 30 metres wide in residential areas. But in this case norms are being compromised as six lanes road has been planned here. And if the agency is hiding behind the Master Plan 2021, then it is not acceptable,” said Anil Sood, an activist and resident of C-1, Vasant Kunj.
According to R Makin, another resident of Vasant Kunj, who had filed a petition in the court against the widening of road, the project won’t help in smooth flow of traffic due to its narrow entrance and exit. Moreover, the road has also been encroached upon at many places which further slows the speed of traffic, he said.
Story so far
In February 2013, as soon as the work started, the PWD’s contractor allegedly felled several trees on the stretch without taking permission from the forest department.
A section of residents filed a case in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and then in the high court against the cutting of trees. However, another group of residents favours the project. They pleaded that the road widening should continue as the road is an important link between the busy colony and the IGI Airport. As a result the road continued to lie dug up.
In August 2015, the contractor roped in by the PWD for the project walked out of it. According to PWD officials, the contractor left the project as the status of the project remained unclear for three years. “As per the contract clause, the contractor is free to leave the contract after six months, if the government is unable to provide a clear space for work,” said a senior PWD officer.