Free-for-all at lifeline of West Delhi
This is one part of the city that seems to be totally out of the government’s radar. Vendors encroaching almost half the road, pedestrians trying to make their way amid haphazardly parked buses and shared autos almost fighting to get passengers – welcome to the Pankha Road crossing.
The scene at this busy traffic intersection near Uttam Nagar in west Delhi reminds one of an old town where traffic rules and road discipline are yet to become a part of life.
No wonder, driving along this narrow stretch of Najafgarh Road — known as Shivaji Marg now — between Uttam Nagar and beyond and Central Delhi during rush hours is a nightmare.
Probably the only road that connects Central Delhi with a host of denselypopulated residential colonies that have come up along the stretch over the past couple of decades and several villages in West Delhi, Shivaji Marg serves as the lifeline for many.
According to an estimate, more than a lakh vehicles drive through this part of the stretch on any given day. The road carries twice the number of vehicles it is designed for. The Metro corridor (the longest line connecting Dwarka with Noida and Vaishali) that runs along the road though did manage to take a small number of vehicles off the road when it was thrown open for the public almost six years back. But the relief was gone in a few months and the road is now more crowded than ever before.
As you drive towards Uttam Nagar from Rajouri Garden, the chaos becomes visible from the Janakpuri West Metro station. Scores of cycle-rickshaws, battery-operated e-rickshaws and shared auto-rickshaws run under the tag of ‘Grameen Sewa’ take over every inch of space meant for them and also spill over to the road, obstructing the movement of vehicles.
The worst, however, is the Shivaji Road-Pankha Road intersection. Fruit and vegetable sellers and petty vendors have encroached upon the limited road space. The number of these vendors increases during the festival season.
“A lot of people stop their vehicles to buy fruits and vegetables. Since this market is located right at the intersection, it leads to traffic snarls. The situation is similar on the other carriageway too,” said Manoj Narang, a resident of Uttam Nagar who takes this stretch every day to travel to his office in Keshav Puram.
Heavy pedestrian movement makes life difficult for motorists as well as the pedestrian themselves. Pedestrians are often found crossing the road even when the traffic light is green, obstructing traffic movement. There is no pedestrian facility at the crossing. The nearest one is through the non-paid area of the Uttam Nagar West Metro station — at least 100 metres away from the traffic junction.
“Why would somebody walk 100 metres and then climb stairs and come back 100 metres again if he has to merely go to the other side of the road? The government should have planned something for pedestrians when the metro’s elevated track was being constructed,” said RP Gupta, a daily commuter.
While a DTC bus terminal next to the metro station is a major convenience for thousands of people living in the neighbouring colonies, it is also a cause of worry for motorists and traffic police alike. Frequent movement of buses in and out of the terminal hampers the smooth flow of vehicular movement. The buses parked outside the terminal block the right of way for many.
“We have written to the DTC and also discussed the issue with senior officers but illegally parked buses continue to be a problem,” said a traffic police officer, requesting anonymity.
“Unless these vendors are relocated elsewhere, we cannot ensure the smooth movement of vehicles. But this is an enforcement issue and has to be taken up by the municipal corporation and local police,” the officer added.
The public works department had proposed construction of an underpass for vehicles going towards Vikaspuri from Pankha Road side but the project is yet to see the light of the day.
“The road going towards Vikaspuri is narrow and needs to be widened before the underpass project could be taken up,” the traffic police officer added.
“There is a need to provide a new connectivity to traffic coming from Najafgarh, Dhansa and neighbouring villages to central Delhi to reduce pressure on Najafgarh Road. The extension of Dwarka metro line up to Najafgarh is also expected to take load off this road,” said traffic expert SP Singh.