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Signal-free Ring Road stops at Moolchand

By Sujay Mehdudia

NEW DELHI, SEPT. 29. If the idea of constructing the Lajpat Nagar-Srinivaspuri flyover was to smoothen traffic flow on the crowded South Extension-Ashram stretch, then the whole purpose stands defeated. Chaos, traffic jams, long queues of vehicles and angry commuters has become the order of the day at the Moolchand signal crossing on Ring Road, thanks to the "inefficient'' ways of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and "sabotage'' of the proposed underpass project here at the highest level.

Hundreds of vehicles line up on both sides of Ring Road at this crossing not only during the morning and evening peak hours but throughout the day with queues at times even stretching to the Andrews Ganj flyover and one part of the now opened Lajpat Nagar-Srinivaspuri flyover. The non-existence of an underpass at this point has created a new bottleneck with the waiting time stretching to even an hour at times to clear the 2 km road.

Political interference and a section of influential people managed to get the previous Lieutenant-Governor, Vijai Kapoor, to keep the project in abeyance. All technical clearances had been taken and the design approved. The matter came up for passage at a number of meetings of the DDA but each time, Mr. Kapoor managed to get the clearance for the underpass delayed as construction of this project would have meant demolition of structures of those people who were considered close to the higher ups in DDA and as well as Raj Nivas during the previous NDA regime.

"What is most surprising is that in official records the project has not been rejected, but kept in abeyance as per the letter from DDA on November 28, 2002, addressed to the Chief Secretary, Delhi Government. An embargo was imposed on the project for some mysterious reason. Everybody knows who was behind this exercise and who are the people affected by the construction of this bypass. Larger public interest was sacrificed to protect certain influential people owing allegiance to the BJP,'' a senior official remarked.

When the matter was taken up again in May this year, the DDA said the original proposal was very old and hence a revised proposal had to be submitted after conducting a revised traffic study. The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Corporation (DTTDC), which was originally allotted the project, submitted the new proposals to the DDA Advisory Committee on May 29. However, despite the urgency of the matter and keeping in mind that all such clearances had been taken care of previously, the DDA's Advisory Committee continues to sit on the proposal despite a new Chairman in the shape of the Lieutenant-Governor, B.L. Joshi. What has further delayed matters is that DDA has gone ahead and formed another three-member sub-committee to study and new proposal.

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