Till about three decades ago, it used to be a narrow stretch of road that would see an occasional car amid inter-state buses and trucks. As the vast expanse of open fields beyond the state border in the east of Delhi started giving way to a concrete jungle in the late 1990s, this one-time desolate road also came to life.
With a large number of upmarket residential colonies coming up on its north and industries and multi-national companies dotting its south, the National Highway 24 (NH-24) has become a lifeline for parts of east Delhi and Ghaziabad.
But over the years, the lifeline is slowly turning into a traffic nightmare for lakhs of people living in the housing societies of Kaushambi, Vaishali, Vasundhara and Indirapuram in New Ghaziabad who drive along this highway at least twice a day. The motorists, who have no option but to drive in the absence of a robust public transport system connecting this residential hub with Delhi, spend a long time in long and frequent traffic jams.
Apart from being an important link for Ghaziabad, the highway also caters to the middle-class residential colonies of Mayur Vihar Phase 1 and 2 and group housing societies of IP Extension.
While the government offices of central Delhi are just about a quarter of an hours drive from these colonies, the motorists take almost an hour during morning and evening rush hours.
Urban planners as well as the local residents blame the mess on poor planning. While the volume of traffic is on a constant rise, infrastructure development has failed to keep pace with it. The wide and largely signal-free road continues to give nightmares to motorists.
“There is no long-term planning gone into it. The road was widened and made signal-free but pedestrians were not given facilities. Despite being a highway, it caters to a large volume of local traffic. Now that the PWD is working to extend Barapullah elevated road up to Mayur Vihar, the volume of fast moving traffic is certainly going to increase on this stretch. The government should plan a road network for better dispersal of traffic now,” said Rajiv Chandok, advisor, Society for Public Cause.
Motorists say the traffic snarls begin almost immediately after crossing the Ghazipur flyover in the morning while going towards Nizamuddin Bridge. Traffic comes to a sudden halt at the traffic signal of Mayur Vihar Phase -2 and the queue of cars and buses extend up to the foot of Ghazipur flyover.
The next choke point is a small bridge on Patparganj Road. Thanks to poor road engineering, the buses coming from the Pandav Nagar side turning on to the highway need the entire road width to manoeuvre, which obstructs the movement of traffic.
The traffic signal for pedestrians at Siraspur Village is non-functional most of the times, making it difficult for the pedestrians to cross the road and holds up traffic too.
In the evening rush hour, traffic starts slowing down near the Commonwealth Games Village.
“A large volume of traffic that comes from ITO Chungi side merges with the NH-24. Since there is no space for the traffic to weave, it results in chaos. Also, the traffic going towards Noida takes a left on the narrow loop and obstruct vehicles coming from behind,” said Kuldeep Saxena, a resident of Indirapuram and a daily traveller on the busy highway.
Motorists suggest there should be a service road parallel to the highway for local traffic between Mayur Vihar phase 1, 2 and IP Extension.
Delhi PWD engineers said efforts were being made to streamline traffic movement on the road.
“The road is being widened at Pandav Nagar to give more space to vehicles coming from ITO Chungi and for left turning traffic. A pedestrian bridge is also being constructed for easy movement of pedestrians,” a PWD spokesperson said.
The official added that plans were afoot to widen the loop of the Noida flyover for the better movement of vehicles taking a left from NH-24 towards Noida.