As living space shrinks in Delhi, hundreds and thousands of people with offices in India’s capital or neighbour Noida in recent years have settled in Ghaziabad, a booming middle-class township on the outskirts of Delhi.
As new settlers pour into Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh and builders compete with one another to shelter them in shiny towers giving the place a Dubai-like skyline, new townships have exploded: Kaushambi, Indirapuram, Vaishali and Vasundhara, to name just a few.
To our point, though: no transport network connects these colonies with Ghaziabad city.
The city of over 16-lakh people does not have a local bus service and, in its absence, residents mainly rely on a fleet of 8,000 three-wheel autorickshaws, 60 per cent of which have no licence to run.
Local authorities have been talking about an “integrated transport” system for the city, but it is not clear when that will enter service. There is a plan to bring the Metro rail service, hugely popular in Delhi, to Ghaziabad, but that will enter service only in 2012 (see box).
Towards the end of last year, the Uttar Pradesh transport minister announced an “integrated bus service in Ghaziabad and Noida” within six months. Four months since that announcement, the state government has still to carry out a feasibility study.
But local officials say things are on course. “The Ghaziabad Development Authority has already cleared the proposal for a city bus service. It will be implemented soon,” district magistrate Deepak Aggarwal said.
The Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) has agreed to pump money in low-floor buses that would form the backbone of the integrated bus service. But it is the Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) that eventually will run these buses, said a GDA official who did not want to be named. UPSRTC officials could not be reached for their views despite repeat attempts.
Residents, however, doubt if a bus service would be up on its feet anytime soon.
“In the absence of buses, commuting from one place to another has become difficult. To cover small distances of 5-7 kilometres, it often takes more than an hour. Our efforts to get a good public transport system for the city have failed,” said Kuldeep Saxena, co-ordinator, Federation of Indirapuram Residents Welfare Association.
Better to go to Delhi
“For every official work, from submitting passport form and applying for a driving licence to booking train tickets, we have to go to the main city. But it is more convenient to go to Delhi than to Ghaziabad,” said Barkha Sharma, a resident of Vasundhara.
“If the administration cannot provide us with an efficient public transport, it should at least open offices of various government departments in the trans-Hindon area,” said Amitabh Agnihotri, general secretary, Vaishai Residents Welfare Association, in a similar vein.
The areas worst affected by poor connectivity are Surya Nagar, Ramprastha, Brij Vihar, Indirapuram, Vasundhara and Pratap Nagar.