The authorities have once again succumbed to the pressure of the privileged and so another road running parallel to the BRT corridor is going to be constructed in the Capital
If recent reports appearing in the press are to be believed, a new road will soon come up parallel to the BRT corridor. The proposed road will begin near the start of the BRT corridor at Mehrauli- Badarpur Road and continue all the way to the Mool Chand flyover. In other words this road will be an alternative route for the non-bus users of the road, to reach either end of the BRT corridor without having to go through the corridor. The decision would certainly be welcomed by all those, primarily car owners, who have been clamouring for dismantling the BRT corridor.
From the day the BRT corridor became operational there has been a clamour that the scheme is a failure and should be dismantled. Several studies were conducted and each one showed that the bulk of the road users were spending less time in getting from point A to point B. The other finding was that a majority of vehicles using this stretch were spending more time on the road than they did before the introduction of the scheme.
The overwhelming majority of vehicles plying on this road, as on all roads, are cars. It does not require a mathematical genius to figure out that three cars occupy as much road space as a bus, but while a bus would transport 30, 40, or even 50 people, three cars would not normally carry more than 6 or 8 people at most. And so a more logical use of the road space would demand that vehicles that transport more humans should get precedence over those that transport fewer humans, no matter how well connected, how noisy and how privileged this group of fewer humans is.
The decision to create the BRT was a decision in the right direction because it was designed to make public transport the preferred mode of transport. Had the powers that be persisted with the scheme, of course after removing the glitches, scientifically managing the traffic lights and removing the bottlenecks, the model would have sooner than later convinced more and more daily commuters, those commuting in cars, two wheelers and three wheelers, to shift to the buses, as they have done in their tens of thousands on the corridors serviced by the DMRC.
But instead of doing this, the authorities have once again succumbed to the pressure that the privileged were able to build and so another road running parallel to the BRT is going to be constructed. And this would certainly make the life of those who are used to leading a charmed existence, a little more charmed.
But is someone totting up the costs that all of us, those who live in this city are going to pay for keeping a few thousand motorists in a happy frame of mind? The costs to be paid, incidentally, are not in taxes alone but in the loss of yet another tributary of the Yamuna. This is a tributary of the Jamuna that we have turned into an open sewer and now instead of taking steps to treat the sewage that flows through it to the Yamuna, we have devised plans to cover it up and build a road on top of it and so through this stratagem the builders and contractors would again get millions of the tax payers money and the city would lose another large stretch of open ground and one more channel that used to be an aquifer replenishing the sub soil water at least during the monsoons.
The channel that is going to be covered is popularly known as the Chiragh Dilli Nala. This tributary of the Yamuna flows next to Chiragh Dilli, the village that gets its name from the great Chishti Saint, Nasir ud Din Roshan Chiragh-e-Dehli, the chief disciple and successor of Nizam-ud-Din Auliya. A text about the Sufis of Delhi published in 1920s records that devotees visiting the shrine of the Sufi take a ritual bath in the stream before visiting the shrine.
This was in the 1920s, centuries before the Sufi had once performed ablutions in the waters of the stream near the Satpula, a barrage, built by Mohammad Bin Tughlaq on this stream. From then on, the water was considered holy and people began to carry it away to be given as a supposed miraculous cure -- all for chronic illnesses but even more significantly the Satpula, built by Mohammad bin Tughlaq led to the creation of a large lake, the waters of which were used by the peasants of Khirki, Sheikh Sarai and Hauz Rani etc to irrigate their fields.
The building of this alternative passage, a palliative for the noisy car owning crowd, is going to, in one fell swoop, wipe off all this history and heritage and divest this city of a large portion of its shared memories, memories that give meaning and substance to human settlements and invest them with character. The builders and those that create work for them do not obviously care for these things.