Now, March deadline set for overdue Ashram underpass
Hindustan Times|January 25, 2022
NEW DELHI: The Ashram underpass, which has already missed five deadlines, is likely to be opened for traffic in the first week of March, officials in the public works department (PWD), the agency working on the project, on Monday said.

A senior PWD official associated with the project said that work on one section of the road, and covering the ramps with shade, will be completed by the end of February. The road will be opened for the public after trial runs by the traffic police, he added.

The official, who asked not to be named, blamed unusually heavy rain in January, and the ban on construction activities imposed in November and December last year due to rising pollution levels, for delaying the work.

To be sure, these reasons do not explain the saga of delays that has dogged this project, which was aimed at decluttering one of the city's busiest intersections but ended up creating a two-year-long traffic nightmare.

Work on the 750-metre underpass, which will connect Nizamuddin railway bridge and CSIR Apartments at Ashram Chowk, began in December 2019. The underpass is a key link between east, central and south Delhi, and also between Delhi and the NCR cities of Noida and Faridabad. The intersection is used by more than 350,000 vehicles every day.

The project, which was originally slated to be completed in December 2020, has missed five deadlines, the last one being December 2021. Things reached a point when no formal deadline was set after that.

"We are trying to cover the ramps as an additional safety measure to prevent water-logging in the underpass during the monsoon. The covers will be placed on entry and exit ramps on the Jangpura and Badarpur sides. Finishing touches to the art work on the side walls is also going on. The final date for the inauguration of the underpass will be decided by the government," said a second official associated with the project.

The first deadline for the underpass, which aims to ease traffic jams at the busy intersection, was set for December 2020. It was then revised to April 2021; then to June 2021; then shifted to August 31; and, having failed to deliver the project even then, the deadline was finally moved to December 31, 2021. But that deadline, too, was missed.

Officials in the Delhi government did not respond to requests seeking comments.

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