Dikshit says BRTS pro-commuters, Opposition cries foul(Roundup)

April 26th, 2008 - 9:31 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) The bus rapid transit (BRT) system in south Delhi, which is aimed at decongesting traffic but led to chaos during testing this week, will not be scrapped, the state government decided Saturday after a review meeting. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said the 5.6-km BRT between Ambedkar Nagar and Moolchand is “pro-commuter”.

“The feedback about the corridor from cyclists, pedestrians and bus commuters is satisfactory. It is a new project and has some teething problems to be taken care of,” she told reporters after chairing the review meeting.

The three-hour meeting decided to extend the corridor up to the Delhi Gate only after assessing the overall performance of the stretch, which was opened for the test run last Sunday.

The corridor is to be thrown open officially on May 1. The total length of the corridor up to the Delhi Gate is 15.5 km. It will require an investment of Rs.2.15 billion.

Dikshit admitted car owners were not fully satisfied and said more efforts would be made to streamline the system, but added: “The yardstick to access effectiveness and success of the BRT corridor depends on different users’ perspectives. The bus commuters, cyclists and pedestrians have expressed full satisfaction.

“We will go ahead with the current corridor. Things have improved a lot now. Efforts will be made to improve the traffic flow. We are against putting the commuters to any kind of inconvenience at all.”

The chief minister reiterated that the work on six new corridors would remain suspended till the first one showed satisfactory improvement.

The meeting discussed the situation at the Chirag Delhi point, where 14,300 vehicles crossed between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Feb 28 and the figure went up to 14,700 in April during the same period.

“A service lane from Press Enclave to the Outer Ring Road will be converted into a parallel road shortly, while another parallel road will be constructed to provide relief to commuters,” Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf said.

The Rail India Technology Engineering Services (RITES) will construct two foot-over bridges to ensure safe passage for pedestrians, children and senior citizens, while goods carriage vehicles and all Blueline buses will be taken off the corridor from May 1.

The city’s Transport Commissioner R.K. Verma has been designated chief coordinating officer to review the situation on a daily basis.

“Apart from the foot overbridges, the implementing agencies will concentrate on upgrading the traffic signals and other signages along with enforcing traffic discipline,” Delhi’s Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta told IANS.

Manoj Aggarwal, transport head of the Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transport System (DIMTS) - the executing agency for the BRT corridor, said: “The monitoring of traffic is going to be intensified”.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) termed the decision as “unfortunate” and said Dikshit was not sensitive to people’s woes.

“It is an unfortunate decision. The government’s claim of a satisfactory feedback from the cyclists, pedestrians and bus commuters is baseless. Otherwise, the government would have announced speedy completion of the current corridor,” Delhi BJP unit chief Harshvardhan told IANS.

The BJP has opposed the corridor plan since the inception, and sought the scrapping of the project even in parliament, where they were supported by Left MPs on the issue.

Even Chowdhury Prem Singh, senior Congress leader and state assembly speaker, Thursday sought the intervention of Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna in scrapping the project. He represents the Ambedkar Nagar reserved assembly seat.

The commuters are, meanwhile, keeping their fingers crossed, and hope the nightmare of the first few days is over.

“There was complete mess for the first few days. Things improved after corrective measures. The lane meant for cars and bikes still needs special attention,” said Pradeep Singh, a resident of Saket in south Delhi.

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