IIT-Delhi suggestions for safer Yamuna Expressway gather dust for want of funds
The Yeida, in August 2018, had hired IIT-Delhi to conduct a safety audit of the Yamuna Expressway that passes through six districts of the state - Gautam Budh Nagar, Aligarh, Mahtura, Hathras, Agra and BulandshahrUpdated: Jul 10, 2019 15:33 IST
The installation of safety systems on the 165km Yamuna Expressway may take a while longer as the Uttar Pradesh government wants Jaypee Infratech Limited (JIL), the expressway concessionaire, to spend the money required to implement the safety guidelines, officials of the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (Yeida) said Monday. However, the debt-ridden JIL is facing corporate insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings for the past one year and is unable to arrange Rs 224 crore required to implement the guidelines, officials said.
The lack of adequate safety measures on one of UP’s most accessed and premier roads was again brought to fore on Monday after a two-tiered AC sleeper bus, on its way from Lucknow to Delhi, skidded off the Yamuna Expressway and plunged about 20 feet into a drain. Twenty nine bus passengers died in the accident.
The accident took place around 4.30am in Etmadpur, about 200km from Delhi, when the Uttar Pradesh Roadways bus broke through the safety railing at a high speed and fell into the Jharna Nala, which had about six to eight feet of water, police said.
The Yeida, in August 2018, had hired IIT-Delhi to conduct a safety audit of the expressway that passes through six districts of the state - Gautam Budh Nagar, Aligarh, Mahtura, Hathras, Agra and Bulandshahr.
The eight points suggested by IIT-Delhi are: additional signage (distance bar markings) before the exit ramps, removal of lane system, installation of rumble strips at the entry and exit points, installation of crash attenuators at the exit ramps, audible shoulder marking throughout the corridor, removal of all signposts from the shoulder, shoulder guard rail to be reinstalled as per the standard specifications, and replacement of the raised median (divider) with flush medians and central guard rails.
After the Supreme Court pulled up the UP government, while hearing a petition on motorists’ safety on the expressway, the government had directed officials to step up enforcement to curb speeding and other violations on the access controlled highway.
But the apex court is still unsatisfied with the safety measures taken so far, an official said, on condition of anonymity. The court then appointed a committee to monitor implementation of safety systems on the expressway. The SC committee and the UP transport department had held a meeting on Friday in Delhi and discussed the funding issues without reaching a decision.
“As of now, the Yeida had drawn up an estimate of around Rs 224 crore for implementation of safety guidelines. But we need to do a proper vetting by the public works department or another competent agency before we go ahead with this. Once the budget is approved, we will ask JIL to arrange the funds. Jaypee needs to arrange the money as the primary responsibility lies with the company that constructed the road,” Aradhana Shukla, principal secretary, UP transport department, said.
On March 6, 2019, the Allahabad high court had also pulled up the state government in response to a PIL alleging non-compliance of road safety measures on the Yamuna Expressway.
In the last six years, as many as 720 people were killed in accidents on the expressway, claimed the petition filed by one Bharti Kashyap. The petitioner alleged that due to non-compliance on road safety measures, a large number of accidents were taking place.
“UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath has directed all departments to take necessary action to implement the Indian Road Congress guidelines to ensure safety of motorists. The decisions on fund sanction is likely to be taken soon,” Shukla said.
The UP government, meanwhile, has ordered a probe into a bus accident on the Yamuna Expressway near Agra that killed at least 29 people and injured 15, officials said.
“It is a sad and unfortunate incident. We have directed the traffic police and transport department to step up enforcement and ensure safety on the Yamuna Expressway. We have started issuing instant fines for speeding at toll plazas,” Shukla said.
First Published: Jul 10, 2019 15:33 IST