Delhi’s Ashram underpass to be opened on Sunday
NEW DELHI: The much-delayed Ashram underpass project, which has so far missed eight deadlines, is finally expected to be permanently opened for traffic movement with a formal inauguration ceremony being scheduled by the Delhi government on Sunday, government officials said.
The Public Works Department (PWD) has closed down both the carriageways of the underpass on Saturday for the finishing touches and preparations of the inauguration ceremony, adding to the traffic snarls during the day.
The Delhi Traffic Police has issued an advisory to avoid the stretch. The advisory says that both the carriageways of Ashram underpass (from New Friends Colony towards Bhogal and Bhogal towards New Friends Colony) will remain closed till Sunday due to the finishing work and opening ceremony of Ashram underpass and the motorists are advised to plan their journey accordingly. A government spokesperson said that, as of now, the inauguration of the facility is scheduled for April 24. The traffic trials of the underpass started almost a month back on March 22.
This four-lane 750-metre underpass, work of which began in 2019, connects the Nizamuddin railway bridge and CSIR Apartments at the busy intersection. While inspecting the construction work on March 7, deputy Chief minister Manish Sisodia, who now also holds the PWD portfolio, announced that the underpass will be opened for traffic on March 22. The department began partial trials for the underpass by opening one carriageway on March 22, later expanding it to both sides being thrown open. During the trials, the passage was kept closed during the night (10pm to 7am).
“We are carrying out final repair work of damaged road on the intersection, road markings/signages and the facility is now ready to be opened on a 24-hour basis. The development of foot over bridges will however take more time,” a PWD official said.
The busy intersection is used by more than 350,000 vehicles every day. Several commuters complained about the snarls on Saturday. Ankush Jain, commuter heading towards Noida, said that travelling between Noida and Delhi has become a daily nightmare with traffic jams faced at both Kalindi Kunj and DND borders. “Inauguration of the underpass will bring some relief but it is an irony that underpass needs to be closed for official opening,” Jain said. Dev Goel, another commuter, said that the underpass has remained closed frequently during the last month with changing restrictions. “There have been huge jams because people going towards Ashram think that the passage is open. They should make proper closure announcements well in advance,” he added.
The foundation stone for the underpass was laid by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on December 24, 2019, and it was initially expected to be completed by December 2020. The idea for an underpass at this key intersection was first mooted in 2014 and the PWD had received the nod from LG headed UTTIPEC Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) — the apex body for approving infrastructure projects in the city-- on January 13, 2016. The tussle over the funding of the underpass caused a delay of over two years in the planning stage while the delay on this Rs77.9 crore project after the work began in 2019 has been largely attributed by the PWD to shifting of utilities, lockdowns and migration of labour due to pandemic and change in the alignment of the underpass wall due to existing wall of underground metro line.
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