Eastern Expressway: India's first 'smart' highway plagued by chaos, accidents
It's been a week since Delhi's Eastern Peripheral Expressway was inaugurated by PM Modi with much pomp, but not all seems to be going well, reported Hindustan Times. A team from HT took a drive around the Expressway and found several concerns including confused truckers, long traffic queues and thefts. For all its promises, it seems like the government has failed to deliver again.
The EPE was touted as a solution to Delhi's problems
The Rs. 11,000cr Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) was described as India's first smart and green highway, and had been touted as the solution to Delhi's traffic and air pollution problems. It was meant to divert over 50,000 trucks and other traffic not bound for Delhi, thereby easing the pressure on the capital. However, it seems that it has created more chaos.
Long queues of truckers trying to enter the Expressway
The HT team visited three EPE entry points - Dasna, Muradnagar, and Dasri. At around 10pm, the team was at the Muradnagar entry point around 25km from Delhi, and found a long queue of trucks trying to figure out a way to get into the Expressway. With no traffic police on the 'smart highway' and inadequate signage, the truckers couldn't find a way in.
Chaos on the highway with no assisting staff
Meanwhile, the loop heading towards Palwal on the the Delhi-Meerut highway seemed to be obstructed. Truckers reported that there was no one to assist them, and that half the carriageway was blocked, raising questions about whether the work had been completed. Even after getting on the road, there were complications as the Dasna exit was 'closed for construction' and trucks were spotted on wrong lanes.
Despite promises, no personnel were to be found
Despite promises from authorities to provide personnel for handling traffic and guiding truckers, the HT team couldn't spot a single person from 10pm to 3am in the morning. Lack of personnel apart, the Expressway also has a lack of lighting in many sections, thereby making it more prone to accidents. Just three days back, seven people died in the first accident on the EPE.
Multiple incidences of theft reported in just 10 days
Additionally, theft is also an issue. The EPE, which has solar panels and generators in many sections to power street lights, saw multiple incidents of theft in the 10 days since its opening. While solar panels were stolen in certain pockets, there were other areas in which even the back-up generators were stolen, said senior NHAI officials. Efforts are being taken to improve security.
The govt. demonstrates shoddy implementation yet again
All of the above point towards a hasty, even forced, opening of the EPE and ironically, constructors were congratulated for completing the EPE in a record 500 days. Given the magnitude of the project it'd also be naive to assume that the troubles reported couldn't possibly have been foreseen. The HT report, again, highlights the government's business-as-usual, casual, and negligent approach towards project implementation.