New Delhi: For the residents of north Delhi, Rani Jhansi flyover, which was inaugurated last year, is a classic example of how a government project should not be executed -- with cost overruns and painfully long delays in completion. The flyover is one of the slowest ever constructed, with the project spanning two decades and witnessing a cost escalation of around Rs 600 crore.
Infamous for missing deadlines, the flyover was finally inaugurated in October last year. Due to inordinate delays, the project witnessed several fold cost escalation from the initial estimates of Rs 178 crore to Rs 725 crore. Conceived in 1998 and commissioned by the erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi in 2006, the 1.6-km-long flyover from St Stephens Hospital to Filmistaan Cinema, was originally scheduled to be completed by September 2010, ahead of the Commonwealth Games in the national Capital.
The flyover, which starts at Filmistan Cinema, passes through the congested stretches of Azad Market Chowk, Pul Bangash and DCM Chowk. Officials said that the flyover benefits over five lakh commuters who take this stretch.
With the flyover getting operational, the residents of the nearby areas have heaved a sigh of relief last year as they finally saw the never-ending construction work coming to a stop. "I was just happy to see the construction work come to an end. The exorbitant time taken for construction can only be attributed to the apathy of the authorities` in-charge. Many shops were demolished to make way for it. Dust would fill your lungs and during monsoons, the site became a breeding ground for mosquitoes," said Gulab Singh, a resident of Bara Hindu Rao area.
The flyover has decongested the roads going towards Kamla Market and Delhi Ridge and has connected Pusa Road, Upper Ridge and Rohtak Road through Filmistan Cinema, DCM Chowk, Azad Market and Roshanara Road extending to ISBT (Kashmere Gate), providing a major relief to the heavily congested area. The flyover has drastically reduced the travel time for the commuters who used to be stuck in jams stretching for about an hour near Kashmere Gate, Yamuna Bazaar and Sadar Bazaar areas.
Officials claimed that the flyover has been able to cut the travel time of the commuters by as much as 90 per cent. "With the opening of this flyover, the traffic entering from the states such as Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir straight away reaches Dhaula Kuan. This has drastically reduced the congestion at the Kashmere Gate bus terminal and the New Delhi area. Commuters coming from Rajouri Garden, Punjabi Bagh and other areas in west Delhi towards the ISBT, are also able to avoid traffic snarls," an official with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation said.
The biggest obstacle faced by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation in completing the project was land acquisition in the highly congested area. Several shops on the stretch had to be relocated to make way for the construction work.
Apart from this, the removal of the two religious structures falling on the way was also a big challenge for the authorities. Officials said that the Supreme Court also barred the land acquisition for the project several times. They point out that the biggest reason for the project escalation cost was land acquisition. Initially, the land acquisition was worth about Rs 70 crore but its figure reached nearly Rs 550 crore.
Officials said that apart from land acquisition from private property owners, the work involved several other complicated issues such as exchange of land with Railways and "Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board" (DUSIB), shifting of DDA market, shifting of schools and markets. Involvement of multiple agencies including Railways, Jal Board, Traffic Police, Municipal Corporation and other civic agencies also contributed to the delays.
Apart from this, the project was conceived at the time the national Capital had a unified MCD and during the tenure of the erstwhile Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. In 2012, the MCD was trifurcated and the project was handed over to the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.