Thousands of people living on both sides of the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway between Rajiv Chowk and Kherki Daula toll plaza prefer to cross the main carriageway than use the pedestrian bridge near Narsinghpur village and the underpass at Kherki Daula toll plaza. Industrial workers and office executives working in Udyog Vihar, Cyber hub and near Iffco Chowk jaywalk to work daily.
Being a freeway, the movement of pedestrians is not allowed on the road. However, villagers living on both sides and thousands of industrial workers cross the road every day. They allege that the underpass and the pedestrian bridge are wrongly located.
The grill on the central verge of the road is broken at several places particularly where villages and illegal colonies have mushroomed. School children, office goers, farmers going to agricultural fields and villagers can be seen jaywalking on the road.
“The pedestrian bridge is at least 500 metres away from the residential area and no one is using it except those who stay near it. We have repeatedly asked the government to construct another bridge on the road,” said Jai Singh, a resident of Narsingpur village, whose relative was hit by a car last week, and is presently admitted to a hospital in critical condition.
A group of locals point out that the road has divided the villages on this stretch in two inaccessible parts.
Lal Bhati, a 68-year old farmer, says that while one half of Narsingpur has the village temple, school and the community centre, a large population lives on the other side. Similarly, residents of Kherki Daula, Khandsa and other villages divided by this road are forced to take advantage of the broken grills and patches from where they can cross over to the other side by putting their lives in danger.
Raj Kumar, a security guard at Kherki Daula, says that using the underpass is not safe since there are no lights under the bridge. “Even men are scared to use the underpass in the night,” he said.
Taking cognizance of the repeated accidents on the road, the Gurgaon police in March this year had written a letter to the highway operator to install grills at certain spots to prevent people from jaywalking.
Some of the work suggested by the police has been done. However, at crucial stretches, the villagers stopped the highway operator from plug the gaping holes.
The police had also focused on the busy stretch between Shanker Chowk and Iffco Chowk and asked the highway authority to install grills between entry No. 4 and exit No. 6 on the Delhi-Jaipur stretch and on entry No. 16 and exit No. 18 on the Jaipur-Delhi stretch. The objective was to block the 1-km stretch so that pedestrians stop jaywalking on the expressway.
Highway concessionaire, MCEPL, when asked about the proposal from Gurgaon police said that grills have been installed at several places on the expressway as per suggestions of the police. “The problem is that villagers at Khandsa, Narsinghpur and Kherki Daula opposed the grills. They did not allow the work to be completed. We even filed complaints with the police department,” said S Raghuraman, CEO, MCEPL.
Dr Sewa Ram, associate professor, School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, says that locals need to be given easier options to cross the road. There should be pedestrian bridges with escalators and pedestrian crossings with pelican lights. “The traffic interchange at Iffco Chowk should be converted into transport interchange and it should link the MGF and IIFCO Metro station. This will ensure the safety of passengers,” he said.