Himansshu Bhatt,TNN |
SURAT: Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) proposes to build an expressway to give a single point entry and exit for vehicles to the upcoming express highway and the National Highway (NH) 8.
The project has been envisaged as the vehicle population in the city, which is 22 lakh at present, is likely to double by 2020. Also, 20,000 vehicles come in and go out of the city daily. All these vehicles pass through the city roads to reach the National Highway from Kamrej to Kadodara.
The project will be undertaken on Build, Operate, Own and Transfer (BOOT) basis. There will be no financial burden either on the SMC or the state government. SMC and Surat Urban Development Authority(SUDA) will have to give only right of way to the contractor who builds the facility. He will collect toll from the passing vehicles to recover the cost of the project.
“We need a link way that facilitates people from all sides to go out and enter the city without any interruption. The express link way can help us on this count,” said Jatin Shah, city engineer, SMC.
This express link way would be linked to roads emerging from Rander, Athwa, Puna, Varachha and the Ring Road.
If materialized, it would be the first of its kind link way in the country. Major Asian cities like Bangkok and Hong Kong have such link roads for entry and exits to the city.
“We are looking at the link road as an extension to the Outer Ring Road,” said Manoj Das, municipal commissioner, Surat.
The road and building department of the state government is studying the feasibility of the project. SMC will make financial provision in its budget for the year 2014-15 only to initiate the process, sources said.
Bangalore: Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Oscar Fernandes on Wednesday said his ministry has decided to take up and fast track few expressway projects for the benefit of the industry.
“….we have to complete the projects that we were scheduled to finish…. The Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway is going to be speeded up, the eastern & western peripheral expressways – we are going to take up, also Delhi-Jaipur expressway,” he said after inaugurating EXCON 2013.
He said these expressways will provide enough growth opportunities for the industry. On the Bangalore Airport expressway he said, “It should be completed by January 26 next.”
EXCON 2013 – an exhibition on construction equipment and construction technology is being organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Karnataka Government.
Fernandes said: “Another area we are stepping in is electronic tolling. We have got the latest technology through a mobile you can pay your toll. It is under trial.
Deepa Jainani | Lucknow |
It’s UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s dream project, but the Rs 9,000-crore, 270-km access-controlled six-lane Agra-Lucknow greenfield expressway has found no takers.Belying expectations, none of the five companies — Essel Infrastructure, Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, Jaypee Group, IL&FS and Indus Concessions India — which had submitted technical bids, came forward on Tuesday, the scheduled date for financial bids.Cancelling the process, Infrastructure and Industrial Development Commissioner (IIDC) Alok Ranjan said that the matter will now be referred to the state government for further direction.
The expressway was being touted as an engine to drive socio-economic change in the region through which it would have traversed. “Improved road infrastructure facilities are imperative to enable industrial development leading to inclusive socio-economic progress in the state.
And the Agra-Lucknow expressway would have propelled development all along its route apart from saving travel time and cost. Once completed, the expressway would have cut short the travelling time between Lucknow and Agra from 6 hours to 3.30 hours and would have further acted as a link to Delhi via the Yamuna expressway,” said an official requesting anonymity.
This was supposed to be a toll-based project. The government, sources said, will now examine why this model could not find success and whether other options or models could be followed.
Interestingly, while these companies had shown interest in the expressway when it was launched immediately after the Akhilesh government came to power, gradually, they seemed to have lost interest and began seeing it as a loss-making venture.
In fact, some of the developers even expressed their reluctance, doubting the feasibility of the project and had requested the state to rework the project around the ‘land parcel’ model as was adopted for the Yamuna Expressway. Under that model, the developer was given land along the project as “sweetener” to compensate the cost of large-scale investment.
However, since the Samajwadi Party had opposed the model during the 2012 assembly election calling it ‘anti-farmer’, it was difficult for it to accept this suggestion. All this while, the government kept pushing back the deadline for submitting the bids citing “procedural requirement”. But with today’s development, it had no choice but to close this chapter finally.
Gurgaon, — Canon India president and CEO Kazutada Kobayashi Monday termed the regular traffic snarls on Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway a “cause of concern” and the poor infrastructure here a scar on millennium city’s developing face.
“Traffic problems on National Highway 8 (Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway), specially near toll plazas, are a cause of concern,” said Kobayashi, who has been living in Gurgaon for more than a decade since the company set up its Indian headquarters in the city in 1997.
“I was caught in long traffic jams at several occasions,” he said, adding he keeps a time margin when he heads for the airport to avoid missing his flights.
Noting that Gurgaon has rapidly emerged on the world map, Kobayashi said its dynamic growth and fast becoming a growing hub of MNCs deserves appreciation but its poor infrastructure and lack of maintained roads was the “dark side of the story”.
Speaking on Canon’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, he said that enrolment of girl children in senior classes in Ferozepur Namak village in Mewat district, some 35 km from Gurgaon, increased by 45 percent from last year after Canon adopted the government school in the village.
The number of teachers at the school also increased from nine to 44.
Canon undertook the responsibility of developing the village infrastructure in November 2012 to provide seamless support to its inhabitants with core interventions in eye care, education and environment for a period of three years.
Other CSR projects undertaken by the company include adoption of three Rapid Metro stations for creating a green belt around them in Gurgaon and a photo exchange programme between Canon India and Canon China wherein kids in the adopted villages in both countries click pictures with Canon cameras and share them across boundaries with each other.
Canon India now plans to initiate its village adoption programm
Sanjeev K Ahuja, Hindustan Times Gurgaon,
Commuters suffering regular travel pangs at the congested Hero Honda Chowk on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway for the want of a crossover facility can now heave a sigh of relief as the Union road transport and highways ministry has finally decided to get an elevated 6-lane flyover constructed on the main carriageway.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting between Union minister Oscar Fernandes and Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda at Transport Bhawan in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Hooda had come to New Delhi to meet Fernandes and discuss on how to resolve the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway imbroglio.
“Since the matter is in court, we will plead for an early solution. The public is suffering due to the delay in resolving the issues,” Fernandes said after the meeting.
On the issue of decongesting Hero Honda Chowk, Fernandes said that the road ministry had decided to build a flyover over the existing carriageway. “It will help in decongesting the stretch as the cross-traffic will now move under the flyover,” he said.
Fernandes said that the flyover would cost approximately `100 crore and take 18 months to be completed. “It is going to be a permanent solution that will go a long way in easing the traffic flow on this stretch of National Highway-8,” he said.
Elaborating on why the ministry decided on making the flyover on the main carriageway and not across the chowk, ministry officials said that as land acquisition was an issue here and the cost otherwise could have escalated very much, they decided on this type of flyover.
The vehicles coming from both the directions would cross the highway under the flyover, it was learnt.
Regarding the high-rise mall model with elevated stretches of road passing through it – like in Osaka, Japan – the officials said that had been kept aside for the time being.
(Inputs from Moushumi Das Gupta)
IL&FS Transportation Network Ltd has said that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with East Nippon Expressway Company (NEXCO East), a Japanese expressway development company, to work together on PPP (public-private-partnership) projects.
The ITNL Group currently manages over 34,000 lane km of highways, of which about 12,000 km are in India.
NEXCO East manages and constructs expressways in eastern Japan. Currently, it manages 3,720 km of expressways, which are used by about 2.7 million customers each day. Toll revenues for 2012 were about $7 billion. The company also has about 280 km under construction.
Both the companies believe that the market for expressways in India is on the verge of a take-off and would become a large programme.
An IL&FS Transportation communiqué to the stock exchanges said the two companies aim to use Japanese technology and finance. The alliance intends to jointly carry out technical and feasibility studies and related work on potential road projects in India for implementation.
It was meant to be an intrinsic part of the urban dream that Noida was building. A 24.53-km stretch between Noida, a city that has its origins in the 1970′s, and, the more recent, planned extension of Greater Noida. If other satellite towns around the national capital such as Gurgaon constantly despaired on the state of the roads both inside and those leading to the city, the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway was Noida’s answer to motorists’ demand for world-class roads as more and more people drive in high-end and sophisticated cars.
Built by the Jaypee group which has also constructed the Yamuna Expressway, and later handed over to the Noida Authority, the six-lane road was meant to provide a high-speed link between Delhi and Greater Noida, in turn boosting the region’s market value. More than a decade after it was constructed in 2002, the road has stayed true to the promise of high-speed travel. But speed, combined with other logistical failings and lack of police enforcement, has turned the expressway into one of the most dangerous stretches in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The expressway, almost deceptively, is far removed from the chaotic traffic that exists in the areas it connects — Delhi, Noida and Greater Noida. All six carriageways are well-carpeted, tempting drivers to speed. Lush greenery covers the median along the entire length, the road bending gently at places — but never enough to bring the speedometer down considerably. There are no traffic signals and, in concept, there is nothing to prevent an uninterrupted drive. But often, there are visible reminders that a commute was interrupted. A truck upturned on the median, a car damaged beyond recognition. Lives halted midway.
The first of several safety-related issues facing the expressway is pedestrians crossing the road. With the average speed of vehicles exceeding 85kmph, people crossing the road pose a risk to both themselves and the cars that veer dangerously to avoid them. “The reason we have to cross the road is there are no over-bridges. People are forced to cross the road to reach a bus stop on the other side, negotiating vehicles travelling at over 100kmph. We are exposed to danger every single day,” said Amit Gupta, a student at Amity University.
A string of commercial and residential projects have come up on both sides of the expressway, fuelled by good connectivity and Noida-Greater Noida’s growing population. “This has resulted in an increasing number of pedestrians who want to cross the road. Some of these institutions like Amity University and HCL cater to either students or office-goers who run into thousands. A majority of them use public transport and, therefore, have to navigate the expressway. Lack of bus stops at appropriate points and foot over-bridges means accidents are waiting to happen,” a traffic police officer said.
While a large number of establishments have already come up near Noida, large residential complexes such as the Jaypee Wish Town complex are on their way as well. “Construction workers also cross the central verge, often carrying construction material that hampers their mobility. Once these complexes are ready, then residents will try to cross the road. It is imperative that arrangements are made. Either in the form of traffic signals or over-bridges at designated spots,” the officer said.
If the blame for the dearth of civic infrastructure can be laid at the door of the Noida Authority, the district traffic police too has failed to check over-speeding on the stretch. While the speed limit is 100kmph for cars and 60kmph for heavy vehicles and two-wheelers, it is routinely violated. Additionally, vendors selling sugarcane and fruits squat on the periphery of the road with several vehicles stopping by to make purchases. On the days Indian Express visited the expressway, on a weekday and again on a weekend, not one patrol vehicle was visible.
Lack of policing
“There is no deterrence as there are no police vehicles. If there is an accident, this delays investigation as well as reaching medical help to victims,” said Manish Sharma, a resident of Greater Noida who uses the stretch everyday.
Exacerbating the danger posed by high speed is the presence of extremely slow-moving traffic: cycles and other modes of public transport such as tempos. “Since no toll is charged on the road, it is the easiest route for people going from Noida to Greater Noida. There are various pick-up points such as Amity, HCL, the KPMG building and others, where people gather to board tempos,” said Prahlad Kumar, who operates a tempo on the stretch.
Dangerous in the day, the expressway becomes a demon at night. A Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) report states that the most dangerous period is between 10 pm and midnight, a time when trucks and other heavy vehicles use the road.
Speed it may facilitate but the 24.53-km stretch finds itself caught between its conception of a high-speed expressway and lack of sufficient checks and balances to make the drive a safe one. The twain must meet, for lives are at stake.
Snehil Sinha, Hindustan Times
Smart tags and cards have been a puzzle for commuters since the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway was inaugurated. While many daily commuters claim that they are not even if smart tags are still in use, others complain the limited validity of recharge on smart cards makes its usage cumbersome.
“I have no information about a smart card being issued nowadays and have not even seen any of my friends, who regularly travel between Delhi and Gurgaon, using it. These cards have not been endorsed properly and it seems they don’t want us to use the cards at all”, said Vivek Kamboj, an environmentalist and a resident of Gurgaon.
Interestingly, a high-level panel had recommended use of DMRC-like smart cards years ago, fearing inconvenience posed by renewal of tags.
After the Comptroller and Auditor General’s performance audit of the Gurgaon Expressway in 2008, a specially constituted panel of parliamentarians had taken up the issue.
It had recommended that the NHAI should have a mechanism to monitor the toll plazas with a view to prevent putting the users through unnecessary harassment by way of illegal and unscrupulous methods of toll collection. The committee’s report stated that it understood that the renewal of monthly tags, issued by the concessionaire, is inconvenient to the users.
The committee therefore recommended that these tags be converted into smart cards and can follow the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) smart cards pattern which is renewed after exhausting the amount.
According to information revealed by an RTI, the NHAI observed that when it came to concession for local traffic, there was a lapse of balance amount after its expiry within a month in various cases.
The NHAI further directed the concessionaire to take immediate steps so that no balanced amount lapsed from the card or tag issued to the local traffic from March 2010 onwards. An independent consultant later reported to the NHAI that the concessionaire could not be penalized for lapse in the balance amount, as the clause was not a part of the agreement.
The same consultant in 2011 had reviewed DGSCL’s annual report on the working of toll collecting system and suggested that lapse in balance of discount schemes needed to be reviewed.
After protests on the imposition of toll, the concessionaire introduced tags at discounted rate in 2008. This was later improvised to smart cards in 2012, which the DGSCL, after court directives, is now pushing for. However, the smart cards, though issued free of cost unlike the tags, still carry a validity expiry period of one month if not used adequately. Though the concessionaire told HT that there were cards for which there is no validity of recharge and the balance could be carried forward, but the cards had no discount rates.
Deevakar Anand and Leena Dhankhar, Hindustan Times Gurgaon ,
As per a Punjab and Haryana high court order of September last, it is mandatory to raise the boom barriers at Sirhaul toll plaza on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway once the traffic pile-up there goes beyond 400 metres.
To ensure this, the 400-metre mark has been painted red on the road on each side of the Sirhaul toll plaza.
This is one of several experiments initiated last year after the traffic situation went out of hands at the toll plaza.
Other experiments included making the toll plaza free for 15 days and creating extra toll booths in the form of split tolls.
But, despite everything, the traffic bottlenecks at the toll plaza still continue to agonise commuters.
While the 15-day free period has long been over and the split tolls are working — these have proved to be somewhat of a damp squib — motorists often complain that despite court orders the boom barriers are not raised when the pile-up gets as long as 400 metres, an allegation denied by the toll operator and expressway concessionaire Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Limited (DGSCL).
“I have no clue if they ever raise the toll boom barriers as I have been stuck in queues which have extended the 400-metre mark,” said Karuna Singh, a regular commuter on the expressway, which is a part of National Highway-8.
A spokesperson of the Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Limited, however, said that the red line is very much there and whenever it is breached, the traffic police ensure that the boom barriers are raised and commuters get a free passage across the toll plaza.
“Our personnel are always on alert, especially during the peak morning and evening hours and they raise the boom barriers when the pile-up touches the red mark,” said Bharti Arora, deputy commissioner of police, traffic, Gurgaon.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in its order last year, had mandated the Gurgaon traffic cops stationed at the toll plaza to open the boom barriers if the congestion breached the 400-metre red mark.
“That doesn’t absolve the operator from its responsibility of ensuring a free passage when required,” said Amberdeep Singh, another regular commuter on the expressway.
Toll staff inconsistent in lifting boom barriers: Sanjay Gupta, west Delhi resident
I have to drive down to Gurgaon from my west Delhi residence 2-3 times a week. It takes me about 45 minutes to reach Sirhaul toll plaza on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway. However, quite a few times, it took me 30 to 40 minutes to cross the toll plaza, especially during the morning peak hours.
In the mornings, the traffic congestion is on the Delhi side and during the evening it is on the Gurgaon side, and you can witness the situation going out of control. You can’t do anything but helplessly wait for your ordeal to get over. The pile-ups, like on last Thursday, stretch for more than a kilometre.
I got stuck on the Rajokri flyover and had to drive continuously for about 40 minutes to be able to cross the toll. Since I use a smart tag to pay the toll, I couldn’t figure out if the expressway operator had raised the boom barriers as required once the traffic pile-up crosses the 400-metre mark.
There are two points I want to highlight here.
First, nobody knows who is responsible for implementing the court order of opening the toll barriers in case the pile-up crosses the 400-metre mark. The motorists who wait in the long queues cannot figure that out and they just want to come out of the hell somehow.
Second, it’s not just about the extra time that one loses waiting at the toll but the unpredictability of the jams makes it even more agonising.
One never knows what traffic situation he/she is going to face on reaching the toll plaza. I thank my stars sometimes when I get through the toll plaza within five minutes, but this never happens during the morning and evening rush hours.
E-way official version
“In order to improve the traffic flow at the Sirhaul toll plaza, the Honb’le Punjab & Haryana high court had directed that a red line be drawn on the ground at a distance of 400 metres from the toll gates on either side.
Whenever the traffic was congested and exceeded the red line, the traffic police was directed to lift the boom barriers to ease the flow. We have followed the directives of the high court and the red line was painted on the ground in September.
Cameras have also been installed at that point so that the control room can see whenever the red line is breached and we open the boom barriers accordingly.
The Gurgaon traffic police are also present at the toll plaza and near the red lines. Whenever the length of stationary traffic exceeds the red line, they lift the boom barriers to ensure that the traffic flow is eased.”
Siddhartha Rai , Hindustan Times Gurgaon,
It is now a known fact that the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway and the associated phenomena — jams, holdups, broken service roads and unending queues at the two toll plazas — have made life difficult for commuters, but the devil, as the saying goes, is in the details.
Absence of pedestrian walkways, near absence of cross-over facilities like foot-overbridges and underpasses, and messy and uncoordinated intersections are some of the design flaws that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), in its defence against catechism from the Parliament and the CAG, said it did not anticipate while planning the expressway.
”Either the expressway, meant to fly past Delhi and Gurgaon to Jaipur, should not have been used by the local traffic of Gurgaon, or the NHAI should have planned the expressway keeping in mind the needs of Gurgaon traffic as well,” said Rohit Baluja, president of Institute of Road Traffic Education and director of College of Traffic Management, Faridabad.
Baluja says that the Gurgaon traffic has created a muddle for the expressway.
“The Gurgaon authorities did not coordinate with the NHAI. They saw that development along the highway was easy and profitable, and did not develop their internal traffic mechanism, putting the entire pressure on the highway.
“There was lack of planning from the beginning. The volume of traffic was 10 times the figure estimated on the very first day of operations. The authorities, clearly, did not take into account population growth, rise in number of vehicles, the expected rate of industrial growth in new Gurgaon, and migration from Delhi,” said urban planning expert Sarika Panda Bhat.
Bhat also suggests constructing a bypass to avoid the traffic muddle created due to the expressway and the toll plazas.
After Seoul removed the Cheonggyecheon highway, the average price for apartments in the area rose by almost 25% as compared to only 10% in the neighborhoods farther away. Rents for commercial office spaces rose, too. Who knows the case might be the same for Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway.
Next Page »