Saturday, May 31, 2008

Delhi High Court refuses to change Metro project in South Delhi

The Delhi Metro is seen as an instrument for change in Delhi. The sheer presence of the Metro on many routes has led to a reduction in the bus traffic on these routes (for example, from the Dwarka to Connaught Place route), and has led to the commercial revival of many areas (the number of visitors to places such as Connaught Place, Chawi Bazaar, Chandni Chowk, etc) have all gone up and led to these places getting a new lease of life. However, the Metro project has not been without its slate of issues, one of them being the route passing through areas where there is liable to be controversy.
One major point in the past has been the changing of the skyline of the city wherever the metro passes, because suddenly you have a large seemingly unlimited concrete bridge being part of the skyline, and it can be quite ugly. However, over a period of time, we have tended to accept this as a compromise that has been made to get a system that provides more convenience. One such issue in the past was whether the Metro could be a cultural nuisance, especially when it was passing close to the Qutab complex. Eventually, the pressure by cultural experts forced the Metro line to give in, and they changed the lone so that it did not pass so close to the Qutab anymore. However, the other issue about passing close to the homes of people remains. A metro line can be noisy when a train arrives, and the height of the rail line (especially in crowded areas) can be uncomfortably close to either the second floor / windows of houses, and people feel concerned about their privacy.
There is a solution, but it is much more expensive. Building underground is as much as 3 times more expensive that over land, and wherever the metro has found a central verge, it has built overground because of the expense issue. In the case of South Delhi, the Metro plan faced some dogged opposition, but finally this challenge seems to have been overcome, and the Metro has won the issue:

The Delhi High Court dismissed a petition seeking to scrap Metro's elevated corridor project in south Delhi on the ground that it would cause noise pollution in residential areas on Friday. A Bench headed by Justice T S Thakur, however, directed the Centre and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to make all possible efforts to reduce the level of noise pollution which will be caused by the Metro rail running on the elevated corridor.
The petition, filed by residents of south Delhi colonies falling on the route of the project, had contended that running Metro rail on elevated corridor would create noise pollution and would interfere in their private life as it would be passing very close to their homes. The Centre had defended the elevated project, saying a huge investment would be required for building an underground Metro corridor. DMRC had also contended that contract for the project had already been awarded to the companies and it would not been possible to revert back.

So the issue has been decided for now, but the question remains of expenditure vs. convenience. For future expansion of the Metro line, such questions will again come up, so I wanted to know from readers as to what they thought of this issue.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 5:35 AM