Gurugram suffers as agencies pass the buck
Three of the 10 most accident prone stretches in Gurugram continue to remain poorly lit as agencies concerned were involved in a blame game over jurisdiction.
As many as 38 accidents each were reported from Rajiv Chowk and Kherki Daula toll plaza and 39 took place at Bilaspur Chowk, on the Delhi-gurgaon expressway, during 2011-2017, police said.
Police said most of these accidents took place because these stretches are not properly lit. They alleged that despite repeated reminders the authorities have failed to install adequate streetlights.
The installation of streetlights in the city is the responsibility of the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG). But the civic body claimed that it was not responsible for lighting on the expressway and that it should be handled by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
As the slugfest continues, so does the accidents.
In March 2015, the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the MCG and the NHAI to install streetlights on the Delhi-gurgaon Expressway.
However, despite the court directive, none of the authorities are willing to take up the project.
“During several meetings on road safety, as well as through written and verbal communication, both the NHAI and the MCG had been informed about the need to install LED streetlights in the three areas (Rajiv Chowk, Kherki Daula toll and Bilaspur Chowk). In many of the accidents reported from these spots, motorists or pedestrians weren’t able to spot onrushing vehicles due to lack of light. Despite being alerted repeatedly, the authorities are yet to act,” Hira Singh, assistant commissioner of police (highway), said.
On April 29, two persons, a taxi driver and his passenger, were charred to death after a speeding truck rammed the cab from the rear near Rajiv Chowk. The truck driver reportedly couldn’t spot the cab due to lack of streetlights in the area.
According to NHAI officials, in 2015, the MCG and the Millennium City Expressways Private Limited (MCEPL), the concessionaire for the Delhi-gurgaon Expressway, had agreed to replace the existing streetlights on the service lanes on both sides of the expressway with sodium vapour bulbs at an estimated cost of Rs 9 crore.
However, NHAI officials said the project never took off from MCG’S end for reasons unknown.
“The MCG had proposed to install streetlights at its own cost and the NHAI readily agreed. However, the MCG later withdrew from the project,” Ashok Sharma, project director, NHAI said.
However, MCG officials claimed they are not responsible for installing streetlights on the expressway.
“The onus of taking this project (replacing existing streetlights along the expressway with sodium vapour bulbs) forward is on the NHAI. I am not aware of any past agreement involving the MCG to install sodium vapour lights on the expressway,” Yashpal Yadav, MCG commissioner, said.
The MCG is working on a Rs 92-crore project to install 58,000 energy-efficient LED streetlights in all its 35 wards. However the three accident-prone stretches do not figure in its plans.
At about the same time when the MCG proposed to install lights along the Delhi-gurgaon Expressway, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and the NHAI had signed an MOU to install LED lights on the Delhi side of the expressway.
The MCG and EESL have since come together to install 57,000 LED streetlights across the city. However, the project doesn’t cover the Gurgaon expressway.
“Accidents are often the fallout of faulty road infrastructure, human behaviour and vehicle design. While lack of streetlights is also a contributing factor, faulty road design and speeding are also to blame for mishaps in urban centres. A scientific crash analysis can present a true picture in this regard,” Amit Bhatt, director, integrated transport, WRI India, said.
The MCG started work on installing nearly 49,000 energy-efficient LED streetlights across the city on March 30. As part of the project, nearly 49,000 energy-efficient LED streetlights are to be installed across the city. On October 10, 2017, a MOU was signed between MCG and EESL for setting up 48,568 energy-efficient streetlights in the city.