A one-kilometre stretch on the old BRT corridor from Sheikh Sarai traffic point to Chirag Dilli – the first sample stretch redeveloped by the Delhi government to meet ‘European road’ standards and boasting of a separate cycle track, dedicated pedestrian zones and street furniture – appears to be suffering from lack of maintenance and upkeep.
The stretch is the first to be revamped under the Chief Minister’s ambitious streetscaping, redevelopment and beautification project, under which the government proposed to develop about 500 km of the city roads.
During a spot check, The Indian Express on Monday walked through the stretch and found that though revamped with the sole purpose of ‘pedestrianisation’ to improve safety, the stretch was filled with potholes, cracks and broken pavements. Starting from Chirag Dilli village entry point, the bollards installed to restrict the entry of vehicles were broken and synthetic carpeted cycle tracks peeled off, with uneven patches leaving the stretch unsafe for cyclists. The iron grills, to protect the plants from being uprooted, and curbs were found broken.
“I bought my brother a new cycle and came to ride in Govindpuri as there is a separate track, but the experience hasn’t been great. We are glad this area has separate tracks for cyclists but it lacks maintenance. There are potholes and betel spit marks across the stretch. It gives a bad impression,” said Harsh Gupta.
There were at least 20 potholes and broken patches on the cycle track from Chirag Delhi to Hanuman Mandir road park.
The Delhi government’s PWD, the executing agency, gave the stretch a theme of ‘Deshbhakti’, with artefacts and statues of Bhagat Singh, Rani Laxmibai and a Buddha on either side of roads. However, the upkeep, or lack thereof, was noticeable, with the bust of Bhagat Singh, under the Chirag Dilli foot overbridge (FOB), covered with dust and soil. The area around the statue was filled with spit and the wallpaper on the FOB was peeling off.
Another aberrant was the deposits of garbage on the stretch; waste was dumped every 5-10 metres on both sides of the road.
“We used to come here every day for evening strolls, but now it feels unsafe even to walk here. To escape the main traffic, bikers enter and drive on the cycle track and footpaths. Where will the pedestrians go? PWD should put round-the-clock security for better upkeep and maintenance of the road,” said Soni Devi, a resident of Chirag Dilli village.
The other side of the road that was inspected by the CM last year was better off. However, the granite flooring was broken, and tiles, pavements and grills alongside the plants were in poor condition. The cycle track displayed poor upkeep and it was completely absent near the petrol pump.
This year, the PWD stopped the fountains on the stretch after several incidents of people reportedly getting drunk and creating a ruckus, including that of wanting to take a shower or wash their faces. The water, however, was not drained out, and residents complained that the accumulation of water has become mosquitoes’ breeding ground.
One of the lifts on the foot overbridge was also non-operational and artefacts that were installed initially on the stretch were found locked on the bridge. A street pole was broken and found lying on the footpath. “The number of addicts and petty thieves has increased. I guard the area for eight hours in shifts, people don’t listen. Police also do not take action,” claimed Sham, a security guard.
A PWD official, who is in charge of maintenance of the stretch, said, “We have made estimates and tenders will be floated soon to restore the stretch… This is a part of the maintenance of this road. However, this time we have decided to carry out repair and maintenance work on the road every 15 days.”
Another official said, “The main problem is drug addicts and those under the influence of alcohol. People do not listen, they spit on roads and try to steal designer lights, nuts and bolts. To escape traffic jam, bikers have broken the bollards and taken the cycle track… The track is designed for cycles and cannot take the load… People should have civic sense…”