Delhi Public Works department (PWD) minister Satyendar Jain, an architect, plans to redesign the entire 1,260-km stretch of roads in Delhi to make them commuter-friendly. He tells The Indian Express traffic police cannot wash its hands of responsibility of traffic management by blaming PWD.
Traffic police have often tweeted about traffic congestion due to potholes and claimed to have informed the PWD about the poor condition of roads. How do you read the situation?
Traffic police officers have knowingly withdrawn from the streets of Delhi. Their visibility is almost zero. They have not been issuing challans to offenders because the money collected through challans goes to Delhi government. Traffic management is their job, if they are unable to do it, they can hand it over to us. Before the Assembly elections, traffic police were very active. Why have they gone into a state of hibernation now? They have instructions from the top. Political interests are deliberately leading to such situations so that it reflects poorly on the Delhi government. For instance, some roads that have potholes are maintained by Municipal Corporation of Delhi. However, it is projected as though the government has failed to maintain them.
How are commuters’ woes over increasing potholes being handled?
When we get a complaint about a pothole, we try to resolve it within 48 hours. A dry spell is required to fill potholes caused during the monsoon. Since the weather is suitable now, potholes that have not been filled will be repaired by September 30.
Delhi’s roads are due for carpeting. When is the process likely to start?
We will start the work soon. We have decided to use milling technology. Instead of adding new layers and a 100 mm top layer to the road, only 40 mm will be laid after removing the old surface. This will not increase the road’s height. We have set a target of six months to complete the process at an estimated cost of Rs 500-600 crore. Of Delhi’s 1,260-km road length, about 600 km needs complete overhaul, about 300-400 km needs carpeting and about 300 km needs no work.
How will redesigning Delhi’s roads help decrease traffic congestion?
Delhi’s roads are wide, but not safe or good for traffic movement. We have two-lane, three-lane and four-lane roads, but their capacity keeps fluctuating. Sometimes a four-lane road may work like a three-lane road. There might be easier traffic flow in three lanes than in four. Some people think if we make a 10-lane road, there will be no traffic snarls; that is not the case. There are technicalities. We have built flyovers to cut through traffic but because of designing flaws, there is congestion at the bottom. Roads are designed by giving preference to private cars. There are no provisions for public transport, pedestrians or cyclists. A holistic approach will be taken while redesigning Delhi’s roads.
What redesigning ideas is the government considering?
One of the ideas is to change the concept of ‘last-mile connectivity’ to ‘half-mile connectivity’. We plan to clear about 800m around Metro stations of all kinds of traffic. This half-mile around the station will have safe, well-lit footpaths. Commuters will not need any kind of transport for half-a-mile. Feeder bus routes too will be redesigned. We have had talks with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation about increasing the capacity of coaches. At present, we have about 25-26 lakh cars on Delhi’s roads. In five years, this figure may multiply one-and-a-half or two times. How that kind of traffic will be handled is beyond comprehension.