Delhi's Mukarba Chowk Underpass Faces Delays

01 Sep 2023

Mukarba Chowk underpass project in northwest Delhi, designed to alleviate traffic congestion on Dr KB Hedgewar Marg, is encountering multiple delays and will not meet its October deadline. Currently, only 10% of the project has been completed.

This initiative, spearheaded by the Public Works Department (PWD) at a cost of ₹595 million, entails the construction of three underpasses. The primary underpass, located near gate number 3 of Haiderpur-Badli Metro station, aims to facilitate pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles. The second underpass is intended for commuters traveling between Badli and Shalimar Bagh, while the third is designated for heavy vehicle movement from Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar to Azadpur.

Originally slated for a 12-month completion timeline after commencing construction in September 2022, the project has encountered setbacks stemming from land acquisition disputes and utility transfer challenges. These issues have necessitated a revised estimated completion date, now anticipated to be in June of the following year.

One senior PWD official explained that the construction progress was hampered by the lack of a no objection certificate (NOC) from the irrigation and flood control (I&FC) department, along with the failure to relocate utilities by Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) and power distribution companies. Numerous underground power lines and natural gas pipelines run along the underpass's alignment. However, land-related problems were eventually resolved on July 7, paving the way for a potential project completion by June the following year.

Both IGL and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (DDL) have expressed their commitment to shifting utilities, with IGL aiming to complete the diversion by mid-September. Meanwhile, Tata Power DDL awaits government approvals before initiating the relocation, hinting at the possibility of further delays.

The project's construction, which began in June 2022, faced initial obstacles due to land acquisition issues. In September 2022, PWD sought a permanent land transfer from the I&FC department for the approach road to the underpass. Construction began despite the lack of a response from the IF&C department, leading to a police complaint and an extended dispute between the two departments. Ultimately, after an 11-month delay, Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena approved the land transfer on July 7, highlighting the need for improved communication between the departments.

Meanwhile, commuters continue to experience disruptions due to project delays. Hemant Sehrawat, a resident of Alipur in north Delhi, reports frequent traffic jams lasting 30-40 minutes during peak evening hours, caused by minibuses, taxis, and e-rickshaws stopping on the Mukarba Chowk flyover. Dr. S Velmurugan, Chief Scientist and Head of the Traffic Engineering and Safety Division at the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), stressed the importance of addressing land possession and utility transfer issues in project planning. He recommended utilizing ground-penetrating radar to assess underground utilities and ensuring that at least 90% of required land is secured before initiating infrastructure projects.

See also:
Seven expressways & flyovers worth INR 600 billion in Delhi
Delhi-Gurgaon NH closed for 90 days for Dwarka Expressway construction

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