Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Standards dodged for new Gurgaon roads

Times of India, 17th November 2014

GURGAON: The consultant appointed by the Punjab and Haryana high court to study the implementation of the Integrated Mobility Plan for Gurgaon made by Department of Town and Country Planning (DTCP), has raised objections concerning several aspects of the plan, such as width of roads, cycle tracks and footpaths, etc.

According to the mobility plan, HUDA, HSIIDC and MCG together were to build 250 km new roads, while also undertaking repair on about 200 km of existing roads, and also building 200 km of footpaths, with cycle tracks where feasible.

Earlier this year, the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) chief administrator had written to the Department of Urban Local Bodies, stating that with the exponential growth of the city and its vehicular traffic, the widths of roads sanctioned in the development plan needed to be revised. Following this, instructions were issued to all senior town planners, as well as the district town planner, to upgrade the widths of all sanctioned roads, with the width of major arterial roads raised from 60metres to 75 m, arterial roads kept the same at 60 m, width of sector roads raised from 30 m to 45 m, collector roads from 18 m to 24 m and local roads from nine metres to 12 m.

However, on its own, the high court appointed Navdeep Asija - who shot to fame with Ecocabs, his dial-a-cycle rickshaw concept that won him India's National Award of Excellence in 2011 - as an expert to study the ongoing works, as well as implementation of the Integrated Mobility Plan by various departments. In his report, which he submitted to the court on October 17, he has pointed out various anomalies in the implementation.

According to Asija's report, submitted last month, of the 200 km of footpaths to be built, 93 km was to be in HUDA areas - of which 58 km has already been completed with work in progress on another 27 km - work on the remaining 8 km not having begun yet.

The report claims that neither the length, nor the width of the footpaths being made, is as per prescribed standards.

Similarly, of the 156 km of new roads to be built by HUDA, the report claims that although work on 75 km has been completed, the widths of these new roads do not match the upgraded width specified in the chief administrator's directives.

MCG sources revealed that so far as it is concerned, building plans of neither new roads nor footpaths have been implemented, with MCG so far only having managed to appoint a consultant to build cycle tracks and cycle parking in its areas.

If true, this would be a cause for concern for the administration busy projecting Gurgaon as a global city, and an undermining of citizens' aspirations for a cyclist-friendly city, especially in the wake of Raahgiri Day's phenomenal success.

The court, meanwhile, has directed all three authorities - MCG, HUDA and HSIIDC - to submit a response to Asija's claims in his report.

Without elaborating on their responses, officials in both HUDA and MCG claimed they have submitted affidavits in the high court on the issues raised, but haven't yet received any further directives.

MCG commissioner Vikas Yadav said, "We have submitted our status report and response to Asija's complaints, and are awaiting further directions. If any alteration in implementing the mobility plan is needed, we will definitely consider it.

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