Published On : Fri, May 19th, 2017

Exclusive: Great Engineering overcomes great hurdles – Ujwal Nagar homes ‘saved’!!

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Sandeep
8 min read

“It is less than perfect, but still good. Our engineers have been working on a solution relentlessly; 6 months have been wasted already – how long can the commuters from Manish Nagar suffer?” Says the man whose life’s motto is – ‘ it is indeed possible; it’s all about Engineering!’ Who else but Maharashtra’s Metro man Brijesh Dixit?

“The C.M. Mr. Devendra Fadnavis was himself involved in this project and finding a solution to the problem – we did not want the pace of work to be affected with the prospect of time consuming legal hurdles and forceful eviction of people. The whole exercise is for the benefit of Nagpur citizens, not just for today but for the coming 100 years – what is the point of it if they are unhappy?”

Nagpur Today is first to know that it is almost final that the subway that was to ply under the railway line at Ujwal Nagar is being shifted to another spot – closer to the present railway crossing – and the residents of the 14 houses of Narkesari Housing Society and Ujwal Nagar that were to be ‘relocated’ will remain unscathed.

10 lakhs TVU – why a flyover was long overdue?

What is TVU?? It is train vehicle units. A multiple of the number of trains that pass a railway crossing and the number of two wheelers/ four wheelers that are affected on the road due to closing of gates when trains pass.

“The recognized norm is that when TVU crosses 1 lakh, there ought to be a flyover/ subway to allow road traffic to go on unhindered. Here we had 10 lakhs!! Imagine the agony of commuters who have to wait almost an hour everyday when they are on the way home from office in the evenings or worse, on the way to office in the morning…”

It does seem now that the planners of that time goofed up – a railway overbridge should have been planned when the Chatrapati flyover was built over 2 decades ago. But may be no one understood or appreciated then how popular Manish Nagar and Besa would get as new residential areas of the city.

It is where many ‘new generation immigrants’ to Nagpur have their homes. Their work places are however mostly on the other side of the railway track – in MIHAN, Butibori, Sitabaldi, Sadar etc. etc. and they have to cross over twice everyday. Though MIHAN is yet to see sizable employment the promise is there and looming larger. Property rates were attractive and affordable in that area, though that is no more so! The area is quite densely populated already, despite problems like water shortage, bad roads and many societies not yet legalized by NIT/ NMC. As population grew, so did the vehicles waiting to cross over at the hitherto sleepy, lazy railway crossing that had existed at the entry point to Manish Nagar ever since the first few houses sprung up on the other side. Who knew then that the trickle would turn into a flood and then into a deluge?

The original plan

Just as blue print was being made ready for the Nagpur metro 4 – 5 years ago, a flyover for Manish Nagar was also promised and was on the anvil.

When pace of work began progressing actively on the metro, a wise decision was made to hand over some highway/ busy main road flyovers that were in close proximity to metro line also to Nagpur Metro for design and execution.(Maharashtra metro now.)

“This way we have succeeded in assimilating the two projects and designing pillars in such a way that the same pillar supports both metro and flyover. So unlike cities like Bangalore where pillars for metro and flyover are separate but in close proximity, the area under is not cluttered with too much space being taken up. The roads/ areas under our pillars will remain spacious, uncluttered and airy. The pillars themselves will be objects of art – either with vertical gardens, or attractive colouring. At night, they will be lit up tastefully. Who says all tall, metallic structures have to be ugly and an eye sore? Look at our Howrah bridge or the Sidney bridge!

Nothing planned and built by the Maharashtra metro will be ugly or unpleasant to behold. That is my promise to Nagpur!” Says Dixit.

Just like beauty is an objective, safe and smooth flow of traffic was also a big goal. This is where the need for both a flyover and a subway was originally felt.  (For bifurcation of traffic on the left and traffic on the right). The two were to be combined and built at the same spot and this is where Ujwal Nagar residents would have to forfeit their houses. Not all of course, but 14 of them.

All houses built in 80s and 90s.

Almost all these houses have been built at the fag end of 80s or ’90 and ’91. 26, 27 years ago. People who built them are in their 70s and 80s now. The prospect of seeing their houses demolished and having to move was very disturbing to say the least.

For Keshavrao Hadap and his wife for instance. Keshavrao retired from the Irrigation department a while ago. Born in 1941, he is 77 running now.

“I built this house in 1990, just 9 years before retiring. My job in the irrigation department took me all over Maharashtra and I had no time to settle down and have my own house. Since my family hails from Vidarbha, I wanted to have a house in Nagpur though most irrigation projects were being built elsewhere.” (Don’t we in Vidarbha know that very well??!!)

“Finally it was during his Parbhani posting that we built this house” pipes in his wife. ” He used to travel from Parbhani and live in hotels to oversee construction when it was at some crucial stage.”

“My friends helped me a lot and chipped in when I could not travel” says Hadap.

Naturally the large, spacious though normal middle class house is very precious to them.

“It is home not just to the two of us but our son and our daughter and her family too. Our daughter was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, and naturally we were all concerned and disturbed. We asked her to move with us so we could look after her during her treatment – she lives upstairs with her family. Now not just we are having sleepless nights wondering what would happen to our home but she is very agitated too and it is not good for her!” says Mrs. Chatap. Their son Manish who teaches in Y.C.C. (Engineering college) has been at the forefront of the affected householders group.

Well, the Chataps and 13 other families like them, mostly inhabited by a generation that is in their 70s now – with or without their children living with them – can sleep undisturbed now.

Their homes are safe.

“Not that the C.M. did not understand their agony and their dilemma. He, and the administration tried hard to find an amicable and acceptable solution, like even offering them plots on the Wardha road itself, adjacent to Hotel Airport Centre point, but nothing convinced them.

Finally we decided to respect their sentiment and their emotion and shift the subway elsewhere.Our team of engineers, including our consultant of this project L&T worked hard and long on this issue and found a solution.”

Dixit might say it is ‘good, not great’ but we say anything that ends well is both good and great!

And yes, with the right engineering, everything is possible!!

…. Sunita Mudaliar (Associate Editor)

 

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