For residents of the old city, the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway is not a lifeline, but a deadly fence which separates them from New Gurgaon — the ‘right’ side.
The Hero Honda Chowk is a glaring example of how lack of basic facilities, like footover bridges, can take a huge toll on lives. At the infamous junction alone, more than a dozen pedestrians and motorists have lost their lives while crossing the expressway amid speeding vehicles. In total, 55 deaths were reported in 2012 on the 27.5-kilometre expressway and 89 in 2011.
Despite the disturbing numbers, the authorities have done precious little to ensure safe crossover facilities on the expressway. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had proposed the construction of a flyover based on a Japanese model through a high-rise at Hero Honda Chowk, but nothing has materialised. The authority has been sitting on the proposal till date.
It’s surprising how the authorities planned a big-ticket project without keeping in mind the needs of the locals.
When the expressway was in the planning stage, Hero Honda Chowk was not an uninhabited stretch. Clusters of residential and industrial sectors have been mushrooming on both sides of the junction for more than a decade, besides the presence of four villages.
Having ignored urban growth and several representations by locals, the expressway project was finalised without any provision for crossover facilities at Hero Honda Chowk.
At present, there are five crossover facilities for pedestrians between the Sirhaul and the Kherki Daula toll plazas. But all of them were built at a later stage after several accidents were reported on the stretch.
“It is a nightmare to cross the expressway from Cyber City to Sirhaul or Udyog Vihar. The authorities conveniently forgot that an expressway running through the heart of the city will divide it unless adequate crossover facilities are available for pedestrians and motorists,” said Dr Rajendra Yadav (45), a native of Sirhaul village, located in the old city. Dr Yadav believes removing the toll plazas is the least that can be done to make the lives of residents easier.
For residents of Old Gurgaon, the authorities set aside the value of human lives and the needs of locals to build a money-minting project.
‘Old Gurgaon ignored during infra planning’
Colonel (retd) Rattan Singh, president, Jafra
I have been living in Gurgaon for more than 40 years and have seen the city grow from very close quarters.
Since I stay in the old city, I have seen how it has been ignored when it comes to infrastructure development.
Projects such as the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway, Delhi Metro and the intra-city Rapid MetroRail were planned keeping in mind New Gurgaon.
When the expressway was being planned, nothing was done to ensure smooth connectivity between Old and New Gurgaon despite numerous representations to the authorities.
What they finally did was create a few crossovers facilities, that too under very compelling conditions.
I have travelled to more than 20 Western countries but haven’t seen such an ill-conceived design for a project as big as the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway.
No thought was given to the fact that it wasn’t a green field project. Rather, the expressway meanders through the heart of the city. It should have been designed in a way that would not have divided the city.
It should have acted as a growth engine.
In contrast, it has become a great barrier in the day-to-day lives of Gurgaon residents.
To clear this mess, both toll plazas should be moved out of the city’s municipal limits.
The government needs to show strong will and also ensure better crossover facilities on the expressway for motorists and pedestrians.