Hundreds of residents of Shahpur Jat village held a protest near Panchsheel on the Outer Ring Road on Monday morning, to demand the construction of the Panchsheel foot-over-bridge (FOB), causing severe traffic snarls on the route.
Protesters claimed that though the FOB had been approved by the Public Works Department (PWD) in July 2008, construction had been stalled after “influential residents” of Panchsheel opposed it.
The construction of the bridge has been a bone of contention between the residents of Shahpur Jat and Panchsheel for months, and the matter has been taken up by the PWD, the Delhi High Court and even the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.
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“In the absence of an FOB at the spot, a number of people have died while crossing the road. Most residents of Shahpur Jat are poor and they cross the road to drop their children to their schools, which are located on the other side. A number of parents have died while crossing the road,” Amish Chaudhury, one of the protesters, said.
“Those who are protesting the construction of the FOB are those who will never use it. For them, it doesn’t matter where it is constructed. They all drive cars. But we travel on foot and we constantly need to cross the Outer Ring Road,” Surender Singh, another protester, said.
The response to an RTI filed by residents of the colony revealed that between 2007 and 2011, 19 accidents have taken place at the crossing, and seven people have lost their lives.
Residents of Shahpur Jat have been demanding the bridge for years. They had also held a protest on November 13, 2014 — a day after the the report of a ‘Pedestrian Survey’ was tabled by the PWD. The report suggested that the present site, with the “maximum pedestrian footfall”, is best suited for the construction of the FOB.
However, residents of Panchsheel Park approached the Delhi High Court, seeking a stay on the construction. In their plea, they raised concerns about the location of the proposed FOB and claimed that its construction would lead to traffic snarls on the Outer Ring Road. In January, the court sent the matter to the Lt-Governor’s office. Consequently, a group of experts from the PWD, the Central Road Research Institute and the Delhi Traffic Police decided that the construction must continue and that the present location is best suited for the bridge.
The High Court, in its order dated April 27, dismissed the petition and ordered that the construction of the FOB should go on.
“The PWD has spent a little over Rs 90 lakh on the construction of the project. It was decided that the project was needed years ago, but due to various reasons, work on it has stopped,” a PWD official said.
The residents of Panchsheel then filed an appeal before the division bench of the Delhi High Court, seeking a change in the location of the FOB. The bench will take up the matter for hearing on Wednesday.