With the blow of a hammer, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Tuesday “inaugurated” the demolition process of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System — a 6-km stretch between Lajpat Nagar Metro station and Ambedkar Nagar — and also took potshots at the “copy-paste strategy” of the previous Congress regime.
The project, launched in 2008 under the Sheila Dikshit-led government and completed at a cost of Rs 180 crore, has been criticised by commuters and transport experts alike.
In July last year, the AAP government had announced its decision to dismantle the BRT after five MLAs from the neighbouring constituencies said the road was doing more harm than good to residents of the area and commuters.
On Tuesday, Sisodia formally set the process in motion by hitting a divider demarcating bus lanes, in Madangir, with a hammer.
“This is not a new idea…such roads have been constructed earlier in cities across the world. However, such roads should inspire commuters to use buses and this road has failed to do so from the very beginning,” said Sisodia.
The Delhi government was not opposed to the idea of BRT corridors, said the minister, adding, “The Delhi government would also like to begin working on similar roads. But that has to be done after taking into account the infrastructural needs of the city and not just because there are roads like this abroad. We cannot adopt a copy-paste strategy when it comes to urban infrastructural development”.
Insisting that the decision to dismantle the BRT corridor was taken in favour of commuters, Sisodia observed on a lighter note, “People usually break coconuts when roads are being built. However, this is the first time in my memory that coconuts are being broken over the dismantling of a road.”
Public Works Department Minister Satyendar Jain, who was also present at the event, blamed “poor implementation of the original plan” for the condition of the road.
“The road was intended to be a 26-km stretch but we only have a 6-km stretch here. It has not achieved any of its objectives… this road has increased traffic jams on the stretch and led to increased emissions,” added the minister.
While the process was formally inaugurated today, the actual work will begin on January 23 on the 1.4-km stretch between Khanpur and Birla Vidya Niketan. The demolition process is estimated to cost nearly Rs 3.95 crore, said officials of the Delhi government.
To avoid inconvenience to commuters, the work will take place between 10 pm and 6 am. The process will include dismantling the 58 bus stations on the BRT corridor and setting them up again on the side of the road, shifting the kerb stones being used for lane demarcation, repairing the existing stretch and providing road barriers where needed.
The cycle lanes on this road, however, will be kept intact.
A consultant has been appointed to study the BRT stretch and give suggestions for infrastructural improvements, said Jain. As several of the 58 bus stations are in poor condition, only those that are in a good condition will be relocated, while the others will be done away with, said officials.