‘Most road infra projects in city a big racket of construction firms’ – ET Infra

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NAGPUR: Few days back, city MP and Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari announced two more infrastructure projects including a flyover from Police Line Takli to Katol Naka and a tunnel from Tekdi Road to Civil Lines below Morris College Square. These new projects would provide a lasting solution to the traffic congestion, he said.

However, mobility/traffic experts and civic activists are criticizing these two projects. They said that these projects won’t solve the problem of traffic bottlenecks in the city.

DCP (traffic) Chetna Tidke was not available for a comment, but her office confirmed that they learnt about the new projects only through newspaper reports after the city MP announced the projects at public meetings.

While Gadkari did not reveal much details about the new flyover and tunnel, traffic experts say that a detailed study of future vehicular traffic should be undertaken while announcing or planning any new infrastructure.

Traffic experts pointed out that a flyover on Katol Road is not required as the existing road is wide enough. “Only the Gittikhadan Square is narrow and widening the spot can ease the congestion,” they said.

“Actually flyovers, underpasses are a big racket carried out by construction firms. That is why the city is witnessing haphazard infra projects,” said city planner Pradyumna Sahasrabojnee.

Traffic expert and founder of Janakrosh, an NGO working in the field of creating traffic awareness, Ashok Karandikar, said traffic police should be involved before announcing any new road related infrastructure projects in the city. “We don’t know if traffic studies have been conducted on current bases and data has been projected for the next decades,” Karandikar said.

Retired superintending engineer with MSRDC, Jivan Nikose, said that constructions of a flyover and tunnel should be the last option. The city fathers and government agencies should first try to widen the existing road, he said.

The city has witnessed several infra projects in the last nine years but most of them failed to ease congestion and instead ended up adding to traffic chaos.

Citing examples of the Sadar flyover and the now demolished flyover in front of Nagpur railway station, Nikose pointed out that it’s a mystery why successive governments keep constructing flyovers when it is clear they are not solving the problem.

“When I was a superintending engineer in NMC, I had rejected the proposal to construct a flyover in front of the railway station. Instead, I had proposed to widen the existing four lane road to six. But my suggestion was rejected, and I was pressured to give my consent,” recalled Nikose. As he had refused to budge, Nikose was transferred out of NMC.

Apart from contributing to air and noise pollution during the construction stage, flyovers are bringing a lot of ugliness to city landscapes, Sahasrabojnee said. Also, the traffic problem hasn’t changed much despite construction of many flyovers, he added.

Experts said that city-based stakeholders should be consulted while planning infra projects. Ideally, suggestions and objections for any upcoming projects should be invited, but it is never done, said Karandikar and Sahasrabojnee. “Contractors are reportedly influencing the decision-making authority and hence the city is witnessing haphazard development,” they said.

The Jail Road, Sadar flyover, Wanjari Nagar elevated road, railway under bridge at Manas Square are among infra projects which have miserably failed to ease congestion and instead ended up with creating chaos on the roads.

Karandikar pointed out that tunnel or underpass projects succeed only if several important aspects are considered. They include stand-by power because it is dark inside all the time, rainwater entry stoppage, leakage prevention and availability of automatic pumps to draw out water to avoid flooding.

Besides, such projects also require CCTV to monitor anti-social activities, clear glow signs for better visibility, height barriers, ventilation systems to clear exhaust gases and standby vehicles for towing breakdown vehicles inside the tunnel.

The government agencies have failed to maintain existing underpasses, which were submerged during this monsoon, Karandikar said. So, it looks a bit far-fetched that all these facilities will be available for the city’s tunnel projects.

“Whenever any major road infrastructure is planned, leading traffic and engineering survey firms are asked to prepare a study of its impact on commuters and traffic. The study also includes future projections,” said Tejinder Singh Renu, secretary of Vidarbha Taxpayers Association (VTA).

Renu added that traffic police must be involved in the survey as they know the city roads better. “Most of these survey firms are from metropolitan cities. Their study is mostly data based, whereas many times the ground reality is a bit different, Renu said.

Citing an example, Renu said that the Sadar flyover landing near RBI Square shows how a single mistake can defeat the purpose of the entire project.

  • Published On Aug 10, 2023 at 07:49 AM IST

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