Author Archive for Ambrish

Delhi Gurgaon Expressway: Scant regard for human life

The Delhi Gurgaon expressway between Delhi and Gurgaon has been designed ignoring the local needs of people living on both sides of the highway. The areas on both sides of the NH8 in Gurgaon have long been inhabited and people have crossed the highway for local needs like: children going to school, workers going to factories for decades before the expressway came up.

Villages on both sides of the highway and industrial areas like Udyog Vihar etc have existed long before the expressway was conceptualised. In spite of this fact, the design of the expressway has ignored the local needs of the people on both sides of the highway. As a result of this ignorance or rather indifference, subways, foot overbridges or pedestrian crossings were not conceptualised. Or even if they were planned or constructed, they were mis-conceptualized. Two footbridges has been set up near Rao Tula Ram crossing and one near Delhi Gurgaon border. Ironically there are hardly any habitations on both side around these stretches. As a result, these FOBs are hardly used. Due to this negligence, more than 100 deaths have resulted on the expressway, with larger proportion being that of pedestrians. This includes death of school girl who was crossing the NH8 to attend the government school in her village.

It is believed that it is the basic human right to go to work and earn a living. By the present design of the highway, locals have to risk their lives everyday even to attend office or school. While the expressway has been a boon to motorists, it has been a bane for “equally human” pedestrians. It is shocking to see authorities putting iron grill barricades on the central verge of the highway to prevent people from crossing. Are pedestrians expected to walk upto a ‘U-turn’ 2 km ahead to reach the other side of the road? It is plain inhuman to expect a daily worker to walk such a long distance in scorching sun. No wonder, a regular pedestrian tries to find a shortcut by crossing the highway mid way which has resulted in numerous accidents. Even if such barricades must be put, it should be only done after providing sufficient FOBs/sub ways.

What I am aiming at is the fact the it is not entirely the responsibility of DS Constructions to ensure smooth and safe traffic. If the basic design of the highway hasn’t taken into account the local needs of people living the near it, then what is a private developer expected to do. If the seed is wrongly sowed, how can one expect the tree to stand strong and upright. RITES, which is most likely the design consultant of the project, could not even see such a basic need of providing pedestrian crossing facilities, considering the fact the highway cuts a large city like Gurgaon into two parts. Were they simply sleeping while designing the highway and just did a copy-paste job of making the Detailed Project Report. Did they really conduct the socio-economic impact assessment of this project of the people living around the area? RITES and NHAI are as much accountable for this mess as private contractor.

It is urged that foot overbrides or subways be constructed on urgent basis no matter at what costs within strict timelines and same be monitored regularly by a judicial body. If required RITES/NHAI have to foot the entire bill even if it runs into tens or hundreds of crores of making pedestrian facilities (considering land is costly in Delhi/Gurgaon). Although two FOBs have come up, they are plainly inadequate. Through your esteemed blog, I request you to take up the issue in public and highlight the requirement of not 4 but may be 10 FOBs to ensure convenient cross over for pedestrians and smooth traffic for motorists. We need to get the DPR of this expressway even if it means going through RTI route to point out the flaws in design which defy even basic engineering and socio-economic principles. I am sure there are other ill-designed projects in India, mainly because of lack of capacity more importantly willingness of government planning bodies to ensure designs suited to local needs.

Although early to say, Bandra-Worli sea link may be the next project which needs a closer look. The initial news about jams on the sea-link do give a bad impression though!