Residents risk lives to navigate under-construction Delhi-Meerut Expressway
Every day, hundreds of residents from neighbourhoods on both sides of the under-construction Delhi-Meerut Expressway (DME) in Ghaziabad risk their lives to get on to the highway in order to cross over to the other side or to catch public transport.
Sushil Kumar, a resident of Shivpuri, climbs about 7 to 8 feet to reach the highway, which at a much higher level compared to their localities.
Kumar says many residents use ladders, wooden planks or even use muddy slopes to climb up or descend from the highway to move on to their neighbourhoods.
“This is a routine we have been following ever since the highway’s construction begun. Our colonies were already at a lower level than the erstwhile NH-24. The present NH-9 is much higher. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) constructed underpasses near the localities but they have been submerged in rainwater,” he said.
“Even school children, including my kids, move the same way. Women and girls face more problems in climbing up and moving down the highway. People fall and get injured. Earlier, our internal roads took us directly to the highway. Now it is not the case as the access has been closed now,” he added.
The NHAI is at present constructing phase 2 of the 14-lane DME. Extending from UP Gate to Dasna. The project is likely to be completed by December-end. In September, NHAI plans to open the UP Gate-Vijay Nagar stretch.
Dozens of colonies — Dundahera, Mehrauli, Shivpuri, Sarvodaya Nagar and several blocks of Pratap Vihar — face the highway and are well below surface level.
“There is problem of movement. Residents have to move to a main internal road and then approach the highway. Also, NHAI has constructed drains, at a higher level than our existing drains, parallel to the highway. This will cause overflow into our localities, especially during the monsoon season,” said Champa Mahour, the Bharatiya Janata Party councillor of ward 14, New Vijay Nagar.
“We have taken our issues to every officials available but there is no resolution,” she added.
NHAI officials, on the other hand, said the situation will persist till the end of December when phase 2 is finally thrown open. They said they are constructing 13 vehicular underpasses, five light vehicular underpasses and 14 pedestrian underpasses for residents. These will be connected to existing roads in localities along the highway.
“The underpasses will have rainwater harvesting units to stop filling of water. We are constructing parallel drains, which will take away water from the highway. Besides, we are constructing about 8.5km of another drainage network alongside the inhabited areas. This drainage network will be connected to the existing network and possibly avoid any overflow in localities,” said RP Singh, project director (NHAI).