The much awaited underpass project at ITO Chungi to facilitate barrier-free movement of traffic at one of the Capital’s busiest intersections is now expected to be opened only in September after missing not one but three deadlines.

According to the Public Works Department, the reasons for the delay are many: heavy rainfall of the past few weeks, ongoing construction work of the Delhi Metro railway on the Anand Vihar line as well as long-awaited permission for traffic diversions to undertake work on certain stretches.

“Though the quantum of work left is less, it is segregated, which takes more time to complete. While work on the main carriageway is nearing completion, work on two more loops for signal-free traffic movement from Geeta Colony to ITO and from ITO to Noida is yet to start. Construction of two clover leaves from Laxmi Nagar to Gandhi Nagar and from Noida to Laxmi Nagar has been completed,” reveals one senior CPWD official.

“Our work got badly affected due to a few days of heavy rain these past few weeks. We are also waiting for traffic from Noida and Gandhi Nagar to be closed which will happen only after the main carriageway is ready. Ongoing construction of the Delhi Metro rail line right next door has been overlapping with our work area and their launchers and girders have left us with very little space for manoeuvre. The entire work on the loop from Geeta Colony to ITO is blocked due to that,” he adds.

All these delaying factors notwithstanding, the PWD maintains that it is in no hurry to complete the project at the cost of compromising on quality and safety. “We do not want to end up with mishaps as happened with the Delhi Metro recently and we are also under no pressure to meet the Commonwealth Games deadline at the cost of risking a sub-standard hazardous job. Moreover, since the public is not affected by any traffic problems due to our project, we can complete the project by September and even a few months thereafter it would not make any difference,” adds the PWD official.

However the public is angry over the endless delays on the project, which have meant continued long detours for thousands of motorists and other road users. So many million man-hours and countless gallons of precious fuel have been lost in negotiating the long detours but the authorities couldn’t care less.

The Rs.73.7-crore project envisages construction of an underpass below Vikas Marg through a divided eight-lane divided carriageway that would not only serve as an effective link between localities in East Delhi but also would be an important link between East Delhi and the rest of the Capital.

It also features construction of four clover leaves for free right turn movement apart from construction of two new slip roads for free left turn movement from ITO to Geeta Colony and Akshardham Temple to ITO and improvement of existing slip roads for free movement of traffic on the left -- from Geeta Colony to Laxmi Nagar and Laxmi Nagar to Akshardham.

Though the foundation stone for the massive project was laid by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in July 2007, the construction plan suffered a major delay of at least six months caused by the shifting of water pipelines for the Sonia Vihar water treatment plant and two major Delhi Jal Board water pipelines to allow for construction work in the area.

Once complete, all four left turns at the ITO intersection would be signal-free through direct ramps and all four rights turns would also be barrier-free through use of four separate clover leaves with only straight traffic on the main road -- from Laxmi Nagar to ITO and vice versa being allowed.

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