The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed a petition seeking directions to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to provide an underpass for the residents of Sahnewal Khurd village (Ludhiana), which is situated on both sides of NH 1.
The petitioners – Jatinder Singh and others – had approached the high court contending that the NHAI is widening the national highways and accordingly, the bridges and flyovers have been constructed, forcing village residents to travel cross the highway to move to the either side of the village. It was contended that there is a continuous flow of traffic on NH-1 and in the absence of any access to go to the other side, the residents are forced to cross over the highway, endangering their lives and that of the commuters as well. Also, the one vehicular underpass that is there is 1 km away from the village and so it is difficult for residents to cross the highway for their daily routine works. It is further averred that the underpass has been constructed by the NHAI for inhabitants of Rajgarh, Kanech and Bilga villages. The foot over bridge was also constructed to approach the Gurudwara Atarsar Sahib on the G T Road towards the side of Doraha, but the said foot over bridge is not feasible as old people cannot use the bridge for reaching the other side.
In reply, the NHAI through its counsel, Advocate R S Madan and Mahender Joshi, submitted that the project (highway) on to which the petitioner is demanding an underpass access for ingress and egress of inhabitants of Sahnewal Khurd village (Ludhiana district) has already been completed. Also, the said village is located somewhere between 297 km and 304 km of the NH 1 and during the upgradation of NH 1 provision of partial access had been provided to facilitate the crossing of vehicles and pedestrians. The NHAI counsel further submitted that the vehicular underpass access at 298.50 km had been added in addition to the original plan only on the request of public and to cater the needs of nearby villages.
It is pertinent here to mention that all these structures are constructed keeping in view various attendant circumstances. The petitioners’ village has a service lane on both sides of the carriageway which is NH 1; these service lanes are not one way, that is, the movement is allowed in both the directions and therefore the inhabitants of Sahnewal village can cross NH 1 from any of the structures.
The bench of Justice Vinod S Bhardwaj, after hearing the matter, held that the representations submitted by the residents of the villages have been considered on various occasions by the NHAI to examine the feasibility and possibility of providing an underpass to the villagers at the places as demanded by them. The same has not been found to be feasible. It is also specifically submitted that a bi-directional service road has already been provided for and the same can be taken into use by the residents of the village.