There’s nothing saint-like at the Ashram crossing in south Delhi. Irritable drivers honk at everyone and everything that moves. A deluge of vehicles comes to a standstill here almost every day.
Everyone is in a hurry and yet the traffic on the 7-km-long corridor — from where the DND flyway meets Ring Road till the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)— moves bumper to bumper, especially during peak hours. And there are days when the jam begins from the DND flyway itself. But the going worsens when you reach Ashram. The queues will only grow longer, especially because the traffic police, urban traffic and transport planners as well as road construction agencies have failed to find a permanent solution to the traffic mess.
Illegally parked vehicles force buses to pick and drop commuters in the middle of the road. Most of these cars belong to traders and residents of the area. Encroachment and jaywalking only add to the chaos. The ongoing Metro construction work has reduced the carriageways, especially for those coming from DND who want to turn towards Mathura Road. Though there are Metro marshals to guide motorists, the confusion does cause more chaos.
The Ashram crossing is the only meeting point between Mathura Road or National Highway-2 (NH-2) and Ring Road. Since NH-2 caters to traffic bound to Faridabad and Agra, several commercial vehicles ply on this stretch.
According to an estimate, 60% traffic on this crossing is inter-city. More than 1.5 lakh vehicles — commercial and private — use this crossing every day and almost 75% of them are private. According to a study conducted by RITES, a government consultancy firm, the number of vehicles exceeds the road capacity by almost 25%.
Urban transport experts blame it on poor planning. They argue that piecemeal studies and solutions have only provided temporary relief and have rather shifted congestion points from one crossing to another.
When the flyover over Ashram crossing was conceived in 1996 (along with the DND flyway), it aimed at reducing travel time on the 12-km Noida-AIIMS section from 45 minutes to less than 15 minutes. The flyway and the flyover opened in 2001 but the traffic situation has only worsened.
The Barapullah elevated road, constructed j ust ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2010 to facilitate the movement of athletes and delegates from the CWG Village in east Delhi to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in south, has taken the load off Ashram crossing a little, but experts believe the 8-9% annual vehicular growth has mitigated its benefits.
The road gives an option to motorists heading to south Delhi, airport and Gurgaon from Noida and east Delhi and vice versa to skip Ashram. Its extension up to INA near AIIMS, which is likely to be completed in about a year, is likely to further decongest the intersection.
But experts believe all these are shortterm measures. With the number of private vehicles growing at a staggering pace of 8-9%, urban planners need to adopt an integrated approach to come up with a holistic solution.
“We need an alternative route to Faridabad and Palwal. There is a plan to construct Kalindi bypass which — if it comes through — will decongest Ashram and Mathura Road,” said Ravi Mathur, director (works), public works department. This road will run parallel to the Yamuna connecting Ring Road near DND flyway and Palwal.
“Moreover, once the Metro starts operations on Ring Road, traffic will reduce further. We are also planning an underpass on Mathura Road which will reduce the number of vehicles on the intersection and give more time to traffic which needs to turn right,” Mathur added.