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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Delhi: Life in slow lane on Vikas Marg

Sidhartha Roy, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 30, 2014
First Published: 13:39 IST(30/7/2014) | Last Updated: 15:27 IST(30/7/2014)

An arterial road that links trans-Yamuna region to the rest of the Capital, Vikas Marg is one of the lifelines of east Delhi.

With a traffic volume of nearly 90,000 vehicles every day, it is a motorists’ nightmare. Built at a time when trans-Yamuna was not really a preferred address for Delhiites, the growing population and congestion over the years in the areas surrounding it has resulted in the road bursting at the seams.

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The road continues to be congested despite two major interventions in the recent past — the arrival of the Metro and construction of a parallel road covering a drain that directly leads to the new Geeta Colony flyover.

The arrival of the Metro that runs throughout the road, from Karkari More to ITO Chungi, has not made any difference to the massive road traffic that crawls beneath its elevated tracks.

The new road, known as the Disused Canal Road, was intended to take some load off Vikas Marg. The canal road remains packed with traffic throughout the day, but it has hardly achieved its intended purpose.

The worst-affected part of Vikas Marg is the 2.7-km stretch between the main Laxmi Nagar intersection and Karkari More. This stretch remains perennially congested with slow moving traffic even at nonpeak hours.

Traffic on the road before this stretch and after Karkari More is still smoother if not completely congestion free. Within this stretch, the most congested and commercialised part is the are a between the Laxmi Nagar and Nirman Vihar Metro stations.

The localities on either side of this stretch, Laxmi Nagar and Shakarpur, attract thousands of students and young working professionals because of the affordable rents and proximity to central Delhi. As a result, these areas are one of the most thickly populated in the city, which also puts pressure on the road network.

Also, over the years, residential buildings on this stretch have been turned into rows of shops and showrooms. The biggest effect of this commercialisation is the parking of scores of cars not only on the narrow service lanes next to the shops but also on the main road.

There is no regulation on the parking of vehicles on this stretch and the haphazardly parked vehicles reduce space for traffic movement.

“The chaos commuters have to endure on Vikas Marg is the result of poor planning. The road was built with scope for growth in traffic in the next five years, not more,” said Ganesh Singh Rautela, officer on special duty, Global Initiative for Restructuring Environment and Management (GIREM).

“The area along Vikas Marg was developed as a residential area but has now become completely commercialised. Shop owners have extended their establishments and there is absolutely no scope for road widening anymore,” he said.

Rautela said that while there was an apparent lack of enforcement when it came to illegal parking on the roads, people also lacked civic sense.

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The traffic intersections and many internal roads that merge with this stretch also create bottlenecks. There are five major intersections from Laxmi Nagar to Karkari More, each with more than two minutes of waiting time.

The volume of traffic from other roads that meets the oncoming traffic on the Vikas Marg is also high. Lack of road discipline is another major problem as vehicles coming from internal roads cross the stop line and almost come right up to the middle of the main road, waiting for the traffic signal to turn green. As a result, the main traffic flow gets disrupted with vehicles trying to drive around them.

Grameen Sewa vehicles, a rather recent arrival on the roads, are also becoming a major problem thanks to their unruly ways. These vehicles ply on two major routes – from northeast Delhi to Preet Vihar and from Jheel, Shahdara to Laxmi Nagar District Centre on Patparganj Road.

The passenger tempos pick and drop passengers near the busy Preet Vihar Metro station while taking up half the road space at this point and changing lanes at will.

They create an even bigger bottleneck at the Patparganj Road and Vikas Marg intersection, where they simply wait for passengers right on the road.

Then there are the slow-moving cycle rickshaws that ply on this busy road while not only affecting traffic flow but also putting at risk the lives of their passengers.

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