If it manages to cross the latest stumbling block in the form of a notice from the Archaeological Survey of India, the ambitious project for constructing an elevated road over Barapullah drain could well mean not just a link between Sarai Kale Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Lodhi Road but also a smooth barrier-free ride for the citizens from Mayur Vihar right up to INA Market and Dilli Haat.
A Public Works Department official said: “After completing Phase I of the elevated road project from Sarai Kale Khan to Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium we would be subsequently extending the elevated road stretch to Mayur Vihar from Sarai Kale Khan side and to INA from Lodhi Road side under Phase II of the project for which we have already received the technical approval from Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure Planning and Engineering Centre (UTIPEC). The administrative approval and expenditure sanction is, however, awaited.”
“The second phase would be jointly funded by the Delhi Government and the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission scheme. With this extension, East Delhi commuters’ travel time to places such as R. K. Puram and Lodhi Road would reduce drastically from 40 to 45 minutes to flat 10 minutes,” he added.
In addition, once on the elevated road commuters would also have the option of taking a direct link to Safdarjung terminal from near Vikas Sadan via a ramp being built under Phase II of the project which is though presently in its first phase but has already had more than its fair share of trouble.
The PWD, which is undertaking the project, has been having a tough time battling not just tight deadlines but also stiff opposition from various quarters and agencies since the project conception in March 2008.
The latest being the notice issued by the ASI withdrawing the earlier permission granted by it for the project and directing suspension of construction activity at the site, a portion of which falls within 100 metres of the protected site of Barapullah Bridge. This notice was issued by ASI following a recent Delhi High Court order.
The PWD official said: “The project implementation was already delayed as we had to fight an uphill task convincing agencies like the Indian Railways, Delhi Urban Arts Commission and the ASI to grant us the requisite permissions and now with the latest notice from ASI it would only lead to further delays.”
“As it is we were under tremendous pressure to complete the project in two years instead of the usual three years required for a project of this scale and nature but new problems just keep on coming,” he rued.
The mammoth Rs.548 crore Phase I of the project cleared by UTIPEC in August 2008 envisages construction of a 4 km elevated road linking Sarai Kale Khan to Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium for easy access of players and visitors from the Games Village to the stadium.
Work on this phase began in October 2008 and is expected to be completed by May 2010 after battling several delays and issues including shifting of electricity towers and water pipelines and modifying the original project design.
The official said: “After the original proposal of a tunnel road from Nizamuddin to Lodhi Road was turned down by the DUAC owing to its proximity to the Humayun’s Tomb, the body itself suggested building of an elevated road over the stretch to cater to not just the immediate need of transporting players during the Games but also have a legacy value once the event is over.”
Accordingly a study and feasibility report was carried out to zero in on the most appropriate alignment with least land requirement and maximum utility services.
“The challenges included crossing Ring Road at Sarai Kale Khan, the railway track near Nizamuddin station and the bus rapid transit corridor at Lala Lajpat Rai Road, all of which were mandatory crossings where traffic could not be stopped to facilitate our work,” the official added.
“In addition, two protected monuments namely the Barapullah Bridge and the Khankhana Tomb on Mathura Road also had to be crossed which was objected to by the ASI. Accordingly, we had to increase the spans which is the distance between two piers as well as raise the height of the elevated road structure to 20 metres at Mathura Road which is as high as a six-storey building,” he added.
According to the PWD, the USP of the project is its imported Norwegian technology involving cantilever construction using lifters which has been tailor-made specially for this project.
Just like the dedicated casting yard of around five hectares on National Highway-24 set up to specifically prepare pre-cast segments round-the-clock for the project construction.
The project involves deployment of six launchers and five lifters across four locations on the elevated road stretch.
The official said: “For the first time four balanced cantilever construction of span length 85 metre is being carried out over a 4 km stretch which is a record. This doesn’t entail stopping or disrupting traffic movement barring two hours in the night. Moreover, our pre-cast technology is different from the technology used by %the Delhi Metro as it takes considerably less time and allows for far more superior quality control as everything is prepared in a controlled environment. The disadvantage is the high cost involved in procuring the equipment %and setting up the casting yard.”
“About 90 per cent of the sub-structure work and 30 per cent of the super structure work which is done on top of the pier is complete. We hope to complete both these structural works by March 2010 and then complete the finishing by May 2010,” he added.