On PM Modi’s advice, Delhi’s Pragati tunnel to open for art viewers on Sundays
The Pragati Maidan tunnel, which was inaugurated on June 19, will be closed for vehicular movement on every Sunday as authorities have decided to allow people to visit the tunnel and see the artwork on its walls- a suggestion that was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi while inaugurating the facility.
The 1.3-km-long tunnel connects Mathura road to Ring road. It has a large number of murals depicting India’s culture, flora-fauna, zodiac symbols and six seasons of different parts of the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari along with Mandala-style art.
Last Sunday, while inaugurating the tunnel, PM Modi suggested that the facility be closed for traffic for 4-5 hours once a week when traffic is low and educational tours be organised for schoolchildren at the site to teach them art, culture and festivals of the country. After taking a brief ride through the tunnel by a jeep, PM stepped out of the vehicle to see the artwork more closely. “I walked for 10-15 minutes and enjoyed the artwork which depicts the culture, festival and six seasons of India. The tunnel should be treated as art gallery,” he said.
LC Goyal, chairman and managing director of the Integrated Transit Corridor Project (ITPO), said that the tunnel will be opened on Sundays for people to view the artwork but it will need more preparations in terms of sitting spaces, washrooms and provision of food and water.
“In the long term, we will have to outsource this work to a private agency,” he said. In view of the additional infrastructure required, Goyal said he was not sure if the showcasing of artwork can start from June 26. Goyal said that it has been left to the Public Works Department (PWD) and ITPO to take the final call.
A PWD official confirmed that people will not be able to visit the tunnel on June 26 as it will require more preparations.
He said that shutting the tunnel for traffic will not affect vehicular movement in the region as the other underpasses will remain open for vehicles.
“Marshals will be present at the entry and exit points of the facility so that visitors can be directed. Since Sunday is a holiday, the traffic volume remains low. Other underpasses will remain open so that traffic flow will not hamper due to the closure of the tunnel. Commuters can also use the conventional routes of Bhairon Marg, ITO and Mathura Road to reach their destinations,” the official said.
He added that the murals inside the tunnel were hand-painted and manufactured on a mild steel sheet, which enhances the look and quality. “The colour of these murals changes at every 250 metres in the tunnel.” The ₹920 cr project was funded by the central government and executed by the Delhi PWD.
Meanwhile, the Delhi traffic police in an advisory issued on Friday said the tunnel will be closed for both vehicles and pedestrians on June 26 for completing the remaining maintenance and road signage related work. “Kindly use Ring Road, Bhairon Road & Mathura Road as an alternative,” it said.
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