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SOS phones dead on the expressway

The Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway is 27.7 km long and is used by more than five lakh vehicles every day.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2010 23:53 IST
Sanjeev K Ahuja

The Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway is 27.7 km long and is used by more than five lakh vehicles every day.

There are 24 GSM-based SOS phone booths on the stretch.

Not one can be used when faced with an emergency.

HT checked all 24 booths installed by Jaypee DSC Limited, the concessionaire company, between RTR junction (New Delhi) and Kherki Daula toll Plaza (42nd Milestone in Gurgaon).

The findings were shocking.

Some have been stolen, some vandalised, others don't work.

Of the 24 booths, 14 were installed on the 18-km Gurgaon stretch and the remaining on the 10-km Delhi stretch of the expressway.

In a majority of booths, the phone battery charged by solar panels was missing.

In many places, even the solar panels were missing.

In booths where phones were intact, we tried dialling the emergency helpline number.

But there was no dial tone.

The concessionaire company admitted a majority of the SOS booths were out of order but 11 were working.

It claimed the theft of equipment had forced it to introduce the toll free helpline 1800 103 1700 that commuters could dial from their mobile phones.

“I got to know of these dummy phones two months ago when I tried to inform the corridor control of an accident I witnessed on the Rajokari flyover,” said Rejimon C.K., president of Dwarka Forum that fights for better facilities on the Gurgaon Expressway.

“I rushed to a guard for help but even he did not know how to use it.”

Another commuter K.S. Anand, who lost his son in a road accident on Gurgaon Expressway last year, said he checked and tried using all the 10 SOS booths on the Delhi stretch but was “shocked to find not a single machine worked”.

DSC, however, put up a brave front saying, “We have an efficient emergency response system in place on Delhi Gurgaon Expressway consisting of SOS booths and the emergency toll free number to help commuters in case of any distress.”

A DSC statement said, “The SOS booths are prone to...vandalisation... are undergoing maintenance now. We urge the authorities and the commuters to help us control such vandalism by reporting such cases.”