“Shall I go over the fly over or under it?” Asked my husband as we were driving on the Wardha road towards the airport. This is his routine question when we are on this road knowing my reply always has been “over the flyover”. (I love the view of the Sai Mandir it -used to- give).
I looked at him surprised. And then in turn watched his stunned reaction when he couldn’t ‘find’ the flyover! (He was out of Nagpur when it was demolished and knew nothing about it).
This episode underlined the fact about how smoothly and quickly the whole process was carried on by Nagpur Metro management. They took a maximum of 10 days to give us back our Airport road with nary a sign of the flyover or even a pebble as the debri! That is no exaggeration – just drive on the road through the Chatrapati chowk and you will see what I mean.
Nagpur is right now seeing a frenetic work pace that has almost destroyed our ‘serene’ traffic and dug up our celebrated broad and cluster-free roads of which we are all so proud! Specially after we visit cities like Pune or Banglore or Hyderabad, we come back happily to our ‘city with a difference’. All because of our roads.
This situation has changed radically in 2016 given that metro work is happening and simultaneously many of our main roads are being cemented. The metro work has mercifully disturbed just two of our main roads – the Wardha road and the Ambazari road ( in parts) since the metro is going to ply right over these roads, but the cementing process has seen 47 of our main roads in shambles.
But the case of the flyover shows what a difference there is between how the Metro has managed their construction work and how the entire civic and police administration of Nagpur is managing the under -construction cement roads.
Coming back to the drive yesterday, to hit the Wardha road I had to take the road in front of the Budha Stupa and the School for Blind. (I was driving the car then, and I was alone). This section of the road is dark – street lights are not very effective or enough. Suddenly after I had passed the square in front of the Fine Arts College I found one section of the road closed and all traffic was diverted through one lane only. There was no warning, no red light even at the spot which you could have seen before hand and be prepared. Forget the presence of any Traffic Marshal or traffic police man guiding you! You had to be alert enough to realize what was happening and veer your car in the ‘opposite’ lane.
Again, after two blocks, without any warning or sign, you had to move back into your lane just a few meters short of the T point when you come to Wardha road. I almost missed that one and would have continued in the wrong lane if the car in front of me hadn’t turned.
Then just as I came to the Wardha road and encountered the metro site, what a difference there was! This road was a beehive of activity with dozens of ‘Marshals’ with light reflecting helmets and tranches in their hands guiding the cars. The relief was so overwhelming and so impressive. But it left you wondering – why such a difference in two segments of the roads in the same area of the same city?
If the Metro administration with a limited manpower – compared to NMC – can manage transition and disruption so smoothly, why not NMC? And they have been at the cementing process for almost 7 years now!
Actually it is not just the efficiency and the professionalism that is different, it is the pace of work too. The road work is going on at a serpentine space, like they have no deadline in mind at all, while the metro work is strictly to schedule – they have to run in an year from now!
As the NMC officials and the Police Commissioner himself admitted at a press conference yesterday, of 47 roads that have been earmarked for cementing, and already partially dug up, only 4 have seen some semblance of completion.
What is worse is that the debri of the dug up old tar roads lie around the construction spots further causing disturbance to the traffic. Not only that, they are hazardous and make the busy roads accident prone. If you are driving during the day, you can at least see the debri and the difference in the road levels where work begins or ends. AT night, you are blinded to their presence and you could meet with a serious accident or damage your car badly when the road level suddenly drops or rises!
One cannot even imagine how much worse our nightmare will become when the Winter session of the Maharashtra Assembly begins.
We know he is not to blame or held responsible in any way, but the disastrous road situation makes it difficult to believe that India’s Transport and roads Minster is from Nagpur and known for his efficiency nation wide! Or that the C.M. is also from Nagpur and it is THEIR political party that is in power at the Nagpur Municipal Corporation and has been at the helm for 10 years now!
Even more surprising that this is the sorry state of affairs when elections to NMC are just round the corner…Are our city ‘fathers’ in a state of fatigue and looking to retire soon?!
… Sunita Mudaliar- Associate Editor