Following assurances from National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) after they threatened to block NH 8 on Wednesday, members of a local party along with Manesar residents called off their six-day-long hunger strike to demand completion of an elevated flyover at IMT Chowk that has been in the making since 2011.
Despite the stir, there was disruption to traffic or any violence over the last six days.
Locals have been demanding the speeding up of the flyover project as the intersection draws heavy traffic driving pollution and often leading to accidents. Spanning 3 km, the flyover will connect IMT Manesar with the National Security Guard (NSG) camp. As the protesters threatened to block NH 8, the district administration, on Tuesday, issued prohibitory orders in the area.
To ensure law and order,over 50 police personnel, equipped with protective gear, were deployed at the spot on Wednesday.
Following a meeting with the NHAI officials, the protestors said the authority had agreed to accelerate the construction of the elevated flyover from Friday and hence, the decided to call of their strike.
“Since the highway has been widened, in the absence of an elevated flyover, residents of 15 villages have to cope with heavy traffic movement near their houses every day. Compounding our problems, regular traffic snarls are leading to air pollution and locals are complaining of respiratory diseases. Hence, we are in desperate need of an elevated flyover,” Kailash Kumar, a resident of Manesar village, said.
The protest was launched on March 31 by four people hailing from a local political party. Encouraged by the support of local residents, more than 50 protesters on Wednesday assembled in a tent on a vacant plot next to the IMT Chowk.
The four protestors belonged to the Rastriya Morcha Party, an outfit comprising residents hailing from Manesar village. Its president Umed Yadav had been leading the protest, which had largely gone unnoticed.
However, on Tuesday, as word of a protester’s deteriorating health spread, some residents of Manesar village and nearby areas also joined the campaign.
Word of the health scare also reached local politicians — Bimla Chaudhary, MLA from Pataudi and Rao Dharmpal, former MLA of Sohna. They promptly reached the spot and gave impetus to the protest.
As the protestors decided to throw a cordon around NH 8, senior police officers from Manesar and Gurgaon reached the spot and pacified them saying the NHAI officials will look into their demand.
Yadav said a delegation of villagers led by Gurgaon MLA Rao Inderjit Singh met Union minister Nitin Gadkari in July last year and handed him a memorandum highlighting their problems. Despite getting an assurance from the minister, Yadav claimed the construction continued to be carried out at a snail’s pace and hence they were forced to stage a protest.
“The villagers had met chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar in February. Though he lent support to their cause, there was little or no difference on the ground. We realised that there was little to be gained by constantly approaching bureaucrats and politicians and decided to step up our protest to garner support and force the authorities to act,” Yadav said.
While laying the foundation stones for three underpasses on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway in September 2016, Gadkari had assured that the construction of the elevated flyover will be completed soon.
For Subash Kishan, a resident of sector 1, the flyover holds importance as the stretch often turns into a death trap for commuters and a large number of accidents have already been reported in the area.
“Heavy vehicles from industrial areas in Sector 3 converge with vehicles heading towards Delhi and Jaipur at the intersection leading to a chaotic traffic situation. It is fraught with risks for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians from Sector 3, especially in the morning hours, as often meet with accidents. There are often head-on collisions as the traffic from Sector 3 tries to merge with the high speed expressway traffic,” Kishan said.
A senior NHAI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the construction delay was temporary owing to a hold-up in the allocation of funds. He, however, didn’t say when the work was expected to resume.