It is the oldest arterial link between central and west Delhi and also one of the most congested in the city.
The corridor, that starts from Connaught Place through Panchkuian Road and connects to Pusa Road and Patel Road, goes on to meet Najafgarh Road after Shadipur and reaches west Delhi and beyond. This busy route caters to 1.7 lakh vehicles every day — thrice the traffic volume it was built to cater to.
As a result, driving down these roads is a nightmarish experience throughout the day, particularly the stretch between Link Road near Jhandewalan and Patel Road near Shadipur.
“While there are detours available, this stretch is still the most frequently used by those travelling between New Delhi and west Delhi,” said Ramakant Goswami, former Delhi transport minister. “I remember cycling down this stretch to Connaught Place in the 1970s when there were hardly any cars and the area was peaceful with beautiful houses and bungalows on both sides in Patel Nagar,” said the former MLA from Rajinder Nagar.
In the last two decades, however, growing commercialisation and congestion along this stretch has resulted in the roads crossing their saturation point. The elevated Metro corridor, which runs along this stretch, has not been able to reduce traffic on the ground but its huge masonry that blocks the sunlight, makes the narrow stretch feel even more claustrophobic.
While the drive through Panchkuian Road towards west Delhi is still smooth, the real trouble begins from the Link Road roundabout near Jhandewalan, where the roads start getting narrower and the traffic thicker. Just a few hundred metres ahead, the road starts getting choked as traffic coming from the Ridge area, Karol Bagh, Jhandewalan and Patel Nagar starts merging here.
The Karol Bagh market and nearby areas that too have become heavily commercialised, results in huge number of vehicular traffic finding its way to the Pusa Road stretch. “Apart from cars, the e-rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws that crowd the road near the Karol Bagh Metro station, taking passengers to the market also choke the road. Their presence remains completely unregulated,” said SP Singh, senior fellow, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT).
Rampant commercialisation over the years across the stretch between Karol Bagh and Rajendra Place has not only changed the character of these areas but also adversely impacted traffic movement on the main road. A large number of hospitals and nursing homes operate on this stretch and cars of patients and their family members could be seen parked along the road, squeezing road space on this already narrow stretch. There are also many hotels and well known schools in the area.
“There is so much congestion on these roads with score of hospitals and nursing homes coming up that even ambulances carrying patients find it difficult to reach these hospitals,” Goswami said.
“Commercial activity is so high in areas such as Rajendra Nagar, Karol Bagh and Patel Nagar that a large number of vehicles come here and are parked in these residential areas, leading to fights many times. It is complete free for all here,” said Goswami.
The next major traffic bottleneck is the Pusa roundabout, where six roads merge, including three arterial roads - Shankar Road, Pusa Road and Patel Road. This roundabout witnesses heavy traffic movement coming from and bound to west, central and south Delhi. As a result, waiting time at the traffic intersections is long.
Further towards west Delhi, the road gets narrower between Patel Nagar and Shadipur. What causes more problem is jaywalking, illegally parked cars on roadside, road encroachments and large number of shops on the stretch.
“The whole area encompassing Karol Bagh, Rajendra Nagar, Pusa and Patel Nagar is the only part of Delhi with no underpasses or flyovers. The problem is multiplicity of authority with both MCD and PWD failing to provide any solution,” said Goswami.
“There are too many traffic intersections along this stretch, with one almost every 500 metres. The area needs better traffic management,” said Singh.