Delhi bus corridor fate to be decided Saturday

April 25th, 2008 - 9:05 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) Under attack since its test run began five days back leading to chaos and public outbursts, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor system between Ambedkar Nagar and Moolchand in the city’s south will have its fate decided by Delhi government Saturday. Though the 5.6-km high capacity vehicular stretch saw improved flow of traffic Friday with hardly any jams and pile up of vehicles, officials preferred to be tight-lipped, putting the ball in Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s court who had Tuesday threatened to scrap the corridor if the glitches were not tackled.

“It was absolutely fine when I took the corridor around 11 a.m. while on way to Connaught Place today. it was a much better traffic arrangement compared to what we witnessed earlier,” said Neha, a resident of Saket in south Delhi.

“Let’s see how the agencies concerned maintain the smoothness of the traffic flow. Friday was the first day when the corridor drive was smoother. If it continues so, then it is all right,” Rahul, another commuter, said.

Manoj Aggarwal, transport head of the Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transport System (DIMTS) - the executing agency for the BRT corridor, said: “The teething problems are being sorted out. The signages and traffic lights are working properly. We are monitoring the traffic flow round-the- clock.”

Dikshit has convened a high level meeting Saturday at her residence to review the situation. Her government has already put work on other new corridors on hold. The total cost of the 15.5-km long Ambedkar Nagar-Delhi Gate corridor is estimated to be Rs.2.15 billion.

Chief secretary Rakesh Mehta Friday held a series of meetings with the resident welfare associations (RWAs) representatives to convince them how the BRT system was going to solve their commuting woes. An interactive session was held at the city’s Constitution Club.

“There is need to educate the people, and create more awareness among the people about the eco-friendly, comfortable and affordable public transport that BRT promises. The people’s concerns will certainly be considered and addressed,” Mehta told IANS.

Sandeep Dikshit, East Delhi Congress MP, said he had accessed the corridor from different directions for three hours and found “nothing abnormal about the traffic flow”. He said the vehicles were plying smoothly in their respective lanes.

“The project must be given a chance. The glitches should be removed effectively. The basic facilities like signages and traffic lights should be streamlined along with managing zebra crossings,” Dikshit told IANS.

What is really worrying proponents of the new bus corridor is the political pressure building on Chief Minister Dikshit to scrap BRT, an issue that the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is using to corner the Congress for thrusting “an ill-conceived project” on the city.

Even Dikshit’s detractors in her own Congress party are out to fish in troubled waters. State assembly speaker Chowdhury Prem Singh Thursday sought the intervention of Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna in scrapping the project. Chowdhury, who represents Ambedkar Nagar reserved assembly seat, is a known Sheila detractor.

Sources said J.P. Aggarwal, city Congress president and Rajya Sabha member, too, had suggested to Dikshit to find an escape route and put the project on hold till the assembly elections which are due in November. Congress leaders feel the corridor may affect their prospects in the neighbouring seats.

Dikshit’s aides, however, said scrapping the project would go against her pro-development image in view of the fact that there was nothing wrong with BRT but the way the entire corridor was being implemented.

“The implementing agencies are responsible for the chaos BRT created. Instead of scrapping the project, we hope the government sets up a committee to monitor the implementation of the scheme,” a close aide to Dikshit said.

The officials from different implementing agencies Thursday sweated it out throughout the day monitoring the traffic flow and sorting out glitches. Even Friday, senior officials, including DIMTS chief S.N. Sahai, BRTS senior manager R.K. Minhas, and government officials personally monitored the test-run along the entire route.

The corridor is to be thrown open officially on May 1.

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