Mismanagement worsens chaos at Ashram Chowk
There seems to be no end to the traffic nightmare at the busy Ashram intersection as poor site management at the ongoing construction on a 750-metre underpass has ensured that the commuters are at the receiving end since the beginning of work in 2019. The project has already missed four deadlines.
HT on Saturday visited the intersection, which is used by at least 350,000 vehicles every day, and found that the junction is in complete mess owing to poor management of construction site, reckless dumping of debris, and sheer absence of traffic monitoring checks on prohibited vehicles. Construction of an underpass at the junction by Delhi government’s public works department (PWD) was going on in full swing, but the peripheral work such as laying of new pipelines and walkways has added to the choke points for the traffic.
Poor site management
The absence or poor placement of barricades around peripheral works on the stretch from New Friends Colony towards Lajpat Nagar has left commuters at the mercy of contractors. Pipelines are being laid for which parts of the road are dug up with zero barricading. Cars, buses, two-wheelers, and even pedestrians, are all forced to use the same narrow road. Mounds of soil and other debris has settled on the road. On the same stretch, there is another portion dug up right in the middle of the road where men were seen working in the middle of traffic with zero barricades or signage cautioning motorists.
A Delhi government spokesperson said the situation has worsened because of the incessant rains. “Work on the Ashram Chowk project is going on with rapid progress and is expected to be completed within a couple of months. The government has made ample provisions at and around the project site for the safety of commuters. The present situation has risen as a result of heavy rainfall in the city and measures are being taken to overcome it,” the spokesperson said.
No traffic police deployment
Despite being one of the most busy traffic intersections in the city, HT found no traffic police personnel on the spot on Saturday. At the main junction beneath the flyover, traffic from three sides merge on to a narrow strip leading to long traffic jams on all sides. Despite traffic signals, the barricades at the spot confuse the commuters who often come in each other’s way leading to snarls.
Special commissioner (traffic) Muktesh Chander, however, said the traffic police does monitor the situation on the ground closely. “I went with my whole team and those from the PWD department. A complete survey has been done on the stretch. We have asked the PWD to expedite work at the Ashram underpass. Permission for the construction work related to the loop that joins the Outer Ring Road will be done only once the construction at the underpass is complete. We have increased the number of traffic police personnel on the ground because pedestrians use the crossing,” he said.
Dumping of debris
HT found that the concessionaires have dumped mounds of soil and debris along the roads at several spots, further narrowing down the way for vehicles and leaving no option for pedestrians but to walk amid moving traffic. New bus stops have been built and the old ones are also operational, but all of them have become informal dumping grounds of construction waste.
Prohibited vehicles still plying
The traffic police has put up boards prohibiting movement of inter-state buses and commercial vehicles towards Nizamuddin but HT found on Saturday several state roadways buses plying on the stretch. A number of medium-sized goods vehicles were also seen on the road.