At Delhi’s Ashram Chowk, there’s no end in sight for commuters’ traffic woes
Work on the Ashram Metro Station, Kalindi Kunj bypass, shortage of police personnel keeps and already clogged intersection constantly packed, even during non-peak traffic hours.delhi Updated: Jan 14, 2018 23:30 IST
The infamous Ashram intersection in south Delhi has reached a point where traffic crawls even on a Sunday afternoon when there is little or no traffic in most parts of Delhi. With one carriageway of the flyover towards Lajpat Nagar shut for repairs, motorists on Sunday had a tough time wading through heavy traffic on the stretch. With a traffic volume of 4.29 lakh vehicles daily, the intersection remains one of the most congested areas in the city.
Adding to the woes of commuters is the ongoing construction for the Ashram Metro Station. The station will be part of Delhi Metro’s Phase III’s Pink Line— from Majlis Park to Shiv Vihar. Even as the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) claims it has given back the majority of the road by pushing back its barricades, locals in the area reject these claims. “The diversions come up overnight. The Metro project is being delayed inordinately here. The situation is also dangerous for pedestrians because there is no footpath due to barricades,” said Suresh Kumar Bhargav, president Siddharth Enclave RWA.
DMRC officials said that traffic from Mathura Road turning towards Sarai Kale Khan will be smoother as one additional lane (in front of NAFED office) will be opened by the end of January. Similarly, the stretch from Sarai Kale Khan towards Mathura Road below the Ashram flyover will also get one added lane by February.
Chaos to continue
However, the chaos at Ashram Chowk that connects central, south, and east Delhi along with NCR cities like Noida and Faridabad, will be far from over. The proposal to build a 750-metre-long tunnel which will allow signal-free travel from Nizamuddin to New Friends Colony or Jamia University on Mathura Road will mean more barricades and diversions.
“The underpass project is a piecemeal job. The government should have rather expedited the Kalindi Kunj bypass project that would take a major chunk of vehicles off the arterial road,” said S Velmurugan, senior principal scientist, traffic engineering and safety division at CSIR-CRRI.
As per the plan, the first leg of the Kalindi Kunj bypass will start from the DND flyover till Kalindi Kunj making it easy for those travelling towards Faridabad to avoid Ashram.
Experts also believe that the upcoming Metro at the intersection will likely lead to more chaos. “The Metro station will attract para-transit habitation. So once the station is open, the area will have to bear an extra burden of e-rickshaws, autos, and other last mile modes of transport,” said Sewa Ram, professor, School of Planning and Architecture.
Ram said most authorities make the mistake of starting several projects simultaneously. “The shockwave of the upcoming Delhi-Meerut Expressway can be felt on this corridor. Same traffic impact is seen from construction of the Barapullah extension to Mayur Vihar Phase I,” Ram said.
Few police personnel
Area residents said traffic deployment at the intersection is also limited. But Traffic Police officers said there are at least nine Traffic Police officers posted at the junction through the day.
“At night there are less officers because of lower traffic. At any point in time during the peak hours, there are around three or four officials managing traffic, while others work in shift or are prosecuting traffic offenders,” said a Delhi Traffic Police official.
The officer said Traffic Police has sought additional staff and that it would help if the police strength at the junction is increased. “Policemen can be effective only to some extent because there are other factors involved such as bottlenecks, poor road design and such high traffic volume,” said the officer.