Wednesday, 19 August 2015

1,260 km of Delhi roads to be redesigned

The Delhi government is embarking on a massive exercise of "redesigning" all roads that are more than 60 ft. wide. According to PWD minister Satyendar Jain, there are 1,260 km of such roads, four of which are being taken up initially under a pilot project.

Speaking at a round-table discussion on 'Traffic gridlock in Delhi: Finding a way out', organized by TOI on Monday, Jain said the government had prepared an elaborate plan to decongest the city which would include building 300-400 km of bus rapid transit corridors also. However, flyovers - a legacy of the 1982 Asian Games - will no longer be built.

The minister added that creating parking was not the government's responsibility and those purchasing vehicles should ensure they have space to park their cars before buying them. "I think Delhi already has more road space and length than what is needed. What is required is a redesign of the existing roads since adding more road length will not bring down the number of accidents," he said. "Delhi is a city but has six-lane roads which is equivalent to a highway! The government is in the process of redesigning all roads that are 60 feet or more...

We will ensure uniform road width, cycle tracks where possible, a wide enough footpath, greenery, benches and hawkers so that there is life on the roads. There is an urgent need to redesign our roads," he said, promising zero fatality on Delhi roads due to accidents.

The four stretches where work will be taken up first are Vikas Marg; Netaji Subhash Place to Rithala Metro station; Britannia BSE 0.65 % Chowk to Outer Ring Road via Rani Bagh fountain; and Patel Nagar Chowk to Moti Nagar Chowk. "We have already started getting designs drawn up for these roads which will be shown to experts. The work will be taken up by the government. While the exact estimate will be confirmed after the designs are finalized, we are expecting an expenditure of Rs 2-5 crore per km. We will also reduce cutting of trees to a minimum and explore transplanting, preferably in the same area," said Jain.

Jain said that agencies involved in approval of infrastructure designs don't clear projects for months and no one checked whether their approved drawings were being followed or not. "The prescribed height of a footpath is six inches, but at various places the footpaths are several inches high, making it very difficult for pedestrians to use them. I also think hawkers should be on footpaths. Streets need to be lively and such activity will provide security and safety. Let hawkers be there on footpaths, not showroom encroachments," said the minister.

The government recently scrapped Delhi's notorious BRT stretch. The minister said the government was committed to building 300-400 km of BRT in the city but the existing stretch has to go since it had been planned very poorly. "We do not care if a car goes at 15 km/h as long as public transport is going fast. One bus takes away 40-50 vehicles off the roads. We have taken away one BRT but many more are in the planning stage. This BRT was taken away as it was ill-designed. When this was built, it was done at Rs 50 crore per km. We have studied other models across India and found that we should be able to do it at Rs 20-30 crore per km," he said.

The round-table discussion was also attended by special commissioner (traffic) Muktesh Chander; Dr S Gangopadhyay, director of Central Road Research Institute; Professor PK Sarkar, HoD of transport planning, School for Planning and Architecture; Amit Bhatt, strategic head of urban transport, Embarq; and Shreya Gadepalli, regional director, ITDP, India.

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