“Just the way the Berlin Wall divided the city into two halves, the construction of the Bijwasan rail overbridge has led to the division of our village,” rued Narain Singh, president of the residents’ welfare association of Bijwasan village in South-West Delhi.
Mr. Singh insisted the manner of construction of the rail overbridge has been abhorrent to say the least. “Scant regard has been paid to the safety of the lives of the people and children here. They just closed the railway crossing and began constructing the bridge. They least they could have done was shift the railway crossing a few hundred metres on either side, but they just closed it without providing any alternative to cross.”
The village elder, a former officer in the Ministry of Communication of Government of India, said ever since the construction of the bridge began around three years ago, the people are now forced to either travel to Dwarka or to Gurgaon in Haryana for crossing the railway line.
“With the primary schools located on the eastern side of the tracks and the higher secondary schools on the western side, the children are forced to cross the tracks every morning and afternoon as they cannot take the 12 km detour on a regular basis. Likewise, if there is a death on the western side, the body has to be taken all the distance as the cremation side is on the eastern side,” he noted.
Making a mention of how the matter has been represented right up to the Railway Minister, Mr. Singh said nobody listened and the village paid a price for adhering to the democratic style of protests and not resorting to rail roko or other agitations to press for its basic demand. “In that case the entire country would have known in an instance,” he said.
Secretary of Delhi Gramin Samaj Devinder Sehrawat said Bijwasan is located in MCD’s Najafgarh Zone on the road leading to Najafgarh from National Highway-8. “Notification for acquisition of land on either side of the road passing through Bijwasan was issued by Delhi Government in February 2010 for construction of a 750 metre “road overbridge on the 70 feet road by demolishing houses in 20 feet on either side of the road to decongest the traffic”
A retired colonel, Mr. Sehrawat said the proposal for constructing the rail over bridge was cleared by the Technical Committee of Delhi Development Authority in June 2006. “The project was handed over to Municipal Corporation of Delhi, an agency not normally associated with construction of bridges.”
He said the request of the village samiti for survey of the quantum of traffic plying on the road by the Unified Traffic and Transportation and Engineering Centre was also ignored by the authorities and courts.
“Over Rs. 100 crore had been budgeted for the construction work. This is a glaring example of total waste of public money as the road passes through an earmarked green zone of the Master Plan,” he said.
Moreover, he said, the road is not expected to have much traffic in future too as construction of a parallel road from NH-8 to Dwarka through Chhawla and Najafgarh is underway.
“This road has a bottle neck at the Najafgarh drain where only a 12-feet wide bridge exists. However, the entire traffic is able to cross the bridge without any traffic jam and delay. This fact amply demonstrates the meagre quantum of traffic on the road and the reason behind the petitioners request for survey of the quantum of traffic on the road approval of the project by UTTIPEC.”
Mr. Sehrawat also charged that houses of the villagers were demolished for the project without notice. “Urgent land acquisition of land was approved by the Lieutenant Governor and the High Court and the project is on for last two years and there is no end in sight as all the pillars too have not been erected.”