By: Nazia Jafri and Kunal Majumder
Photograph: Jaishree

The road from Escort Heart Institute towards Maharani Bagh may not be as smooth as Hema Malini’s cheeks (simile courtesy Lalu Prasad), but it is drivable. Except when you hit the stretch near the Bharat Nagar Gurudwara, New Friends Colony. The place looks, feels, and smells like an open shallow drain. This used to be a road.

Some years back Delhi Jal Board dug the road here to repair a bust sewer. Till date, neither the sewerage nor the road has been repaired.

Vinod Kumar, who owns a grocery shop in the area, claims that due to the unhygienic conditions, customers avoid coming to his shop. “The sewer line is chocked and dirty water is all around,” Kumar says.

Ashok Kumar, a bank officer, lives in the residential area nearby. “It’s been years now. No one in the government seems to bother about the situation,” he laments. Approach the government officials with the list of complaints and the blame game starts.

“We are working on the conditions of the roads but it is not our responsibility. The onus lies with the traffic police. Most of the roads are repaired but some parts are left as Delhi Jal Board has been digging them. Anyone who digs the roads is responsible for repairing them,” claims Dharamveer Singh, the local Corporator at Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

When this correspondent approached the local MLA Pervez Hashmi’s office, the MLA’s secretary, Mahavir Singh explained that the matter is caught in the tussle between Delhi Jal Board, MCD and Traffic Police. “Traffic Police has not given the permission to repair the road. Last week in a meeting with traffic police, the Additional Commissioner of Traffic Police Radheshyam has said that they will give a no objection certificate within a week”.

When contacted, ACP Traffic Police Radheshyam refused to comment.

Main players

Construction department of MCD has prepared an estimate of Rs 20 lakh for rebuilding the road. However Delhi Jal Board is not willing to part with that amount.

“We are waiting for the permission from traffic police which we will get soon. By next week we might start working on it. But the problem is that even MCD is asking for Rs 20 lakh for mending the road. The total cost of repairing can not be Rs 20 lakhs. How can we pay so much?” says Devesh Chandra Shreevastav, associate engineer, Delhi Jal Board.

MCD counters this claim. “The road can not be repaired as the entire sewer line has been chocked. Around 140-160 meter sewer line needs to be changed but Delhi Jal Board is not doing anything,” retorts Wajid Ali, junior engineer of construction department, MCD.

Ali says MCD is willing to cooperate with Jal Board. He adds, “Though the traffic police are not giving the permit to close the road for construction, we are ready to cooperate on our own risk. Why don’t they do the work at night?”

When asked about the cost involved, he said, “Delhi Jal Board is not paying us the money to repair it. If they think Rs 20 lakh is more, they should come up with an audited estimate.”

Once the police permission is given next week, all eyes will be on MCD, Delhi Jal Board and the stretch of ‘road’ near the Bharat Nagar Gurudwara.