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An Express series: Heading North — in search of light


Setting out at night for part 3 of our series, The Indian Express headed from Central to North Delhi and discovered the same thing we had in other parts of the city — long stretches shrouded in darkness, with street lights either switched off or not working.

Between 11.30 pm and 2.37 am on Tuesday night, several key stretches were covered, including the one Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took just a few days ago — albeit during the day. The routes taken include key Delhi landmarks, Kashmere Gate ISBT, Delhi University, the Kamla Nagar Ridge area, and Police Lines Civil Avenue.

The observations:

Marghat Hanuman Mandir to Kashmere Gate ISBT foot overbridge, 11.41pm, 2.2 km

On the left side, the stretch houses several temples and shops selling flowers and worship items. From a U-turn under the bypass Ring Road, the stretch from Kashmere Gate branches off to ITO on the left, and goes straight toward Lohe ka Pul.

When The Indian Express travelled from the Hanuman temple to Kashmere Gate ISBT FOB, the stretch had light poles on both sides of the road as well as on the central median. Of all the lights, from Kashmere Gate ISBT towards Sant Parmanand Hospital and Jamuna Bazar, 19 poles were a mix of single and two-winged lamps, of which only one was lit. From Hanuman Mandir side, there were 20 poles, of which four were lit. On the central median, t here were 24 lights, including five high-mast ones, of which three were not working till the ISBT flyover.

This stretch is taken by lakhs of commuters travelling to and from the ISBT to board buses to neighbouring states. The road also connects to Civil Lines, Delhi University and Vidhan Sabha. On this 2-km stretch, Nigam Bodh Ghat, two bus stands at ISBT, Ambedkar University and Sant Parmanand Hospital are situated.

The stretch was shrouded in darkness.  On January 6, a woman cab driver was attacked near the ISBT. The stretch is infamous for mobile and chain snatching.

“Several light fittings on both sides of the roads have been cut and stolen. This is one of the prominent stretches but maintaining it has been difficult… Theft is a big issue; we have filed several police complaints but no action is taken. We are repairing lights, it will be fixed in a day or two,” said a senior PWD official who looks after the electrical division of the Central and New Delhi division.

Another official said, “As many as 15 poles are not working on the central verge due to a technical fault. We are working on it, and the remaining lights on the stretch have been made functional following your (The Indian Express) complaints. Non-functional poles will be repaired by tomorrow.”

Kingsway Camp Chowk to Model Town police station traffic signal, 12.29 am, 1.1km

The area is home to security personnel and comprises Kingsway Camp, Model Town police station, North Delhi DCP’s office and neighbourhoods where students reside. The stretch from Kingsway Camp Chowk on Mahatma Gandhi Marg towards Mall Road, Model Town police was swathed in darkness. In the middle, the Metro’s underground yellow line is situated. Service roads on either side were covered in darkness and had 21 single-lamp street poles. While two were working, one was flickering.

PWD officials who look after this stretch blamed the thefts and said, “Anti-social elements are a big issue. Despite police lines and a model police station on this stretch, cables, wires, and timers are stolen. We will fix it.”

From Daulat Ram College to Vijay Nagar, 1.02 am, 1.2 km

Starting from famous Tom Uncle Maggi Point near Daulat Ram College, the road till Vijay Nagar Polo Road signal is unlit, barring a few lights from student quarters. On Kirpal Singh Marg to Sahibi River point, there were seven street lights, none lit.

As we cross the Sahibi River bridge, we reach Vijay Nagar, the hub of paying guests for outstations students and Civil Services aspirants. The stretch has 14 lights on the central median, and 30 on the left side, of which only seven were found working. At Vijay Nagar, the road was dimly illuminated only by lights emitted by cafes and restaurants situated on either side of the road.

“The stretch was earlier maintained by the Tata power. PWD recently took the road following several complaints and poor maintenance. Currently, Delhi Jal Board is working on the stretch, which has also affected street lights poles,  but we will get the lights repaired. The street light  are insufficient on the stretch; PWD is also planning to increase it to provide safety to students,” said a PWD official.

Vishwavidyalaya Marg to Chauburja Marg via Kamla Nagar Ridge, 1.36 am, 1.7 km

Starting from University of Delhi near the Vice-Chancellor’s office on the right and Bonta Park gate on the left, the 1.7-km long Kamla Nagar Ridge area connects offices and residential areas of city’s administrators. This includes the L-G House secretariat on Raj Niwas Marg, Ludlow Castle, CM’s camp office and Rajpur Road. The stretch was so dark that several vehicles avoided the route and took Sudhir Bose Marg.

From the DU bus stop, except for four street poles, the stretch was well lit but a little further down the road, Vishawavidyalay Marg descends into darkness. As the stretch starts, a few Yulu bikes were parked on the left. The Kamla Nagar Ridge traffic intersection till the Deputy Conservator of Forests office has nine street light poles of which none was working. From here to the next signal till the officers’ flats on Rajpur Road, there were 37 lights on the right and 14 on the left. Only five were functional.

Akhilesh Pati Tripathi, the MLA of Model Town blamed the MCD, “All the PWD roads are well lit. Recently, along with the principal of Hansraj College, I took stock of the situation and got the lights fixed in several areas. The ridge area falls under MCD…We will try to get it fixed, the network is also an issue there.”

Timarpur MLA Dilip Pandey was not available for comments.





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