Delhi govt gives NHAI go-ahead for Dwarka expressway Package-2

The 29.1-km Dwarka Expressway will connect Shiv Murti at Mahipalpur to a point near Kherki Daula toll plaza, and further connect the Southern Peripheral Road with Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway through an interchange.

Dwarka expressway,Delhi government,NHAI

The much-delayed package two of the Dwarka Expressway has received the Delhi government’s approval and work on this stretch is likely to start next month, officials familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. The permission for transplanting and cutting trees on this stretch was granted last week by the forest department of the Delhi government, confirmed a senior official in the Union ministry for road transport and highways on Tuesday.

The 29.1-km Dwarka Expressway will connect Shiv Murti at Mahipalpur to a point near Kherki Daula toll plaza, and further connect the Southern Peripheral Road with Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway through an interchange.

Package one and two of the Dwarka Expressway are part of the 11-km Delhi corridor (the remaining 18.1-km falls in Haryana) and these have been delayed by over 1.8 years because of the Delhi government’s reservations on cutting around 6,500 fully grown trees falling on the road’s alignment.

The Delhi government approved the package last week, with stringent conditions for transplantation and compensatory forestation, after repeated submissions by the Union transport ministry and groups of homebuyers who have invested in areas along this expressway, NHAI officials said.

NHAI chief general manager Manoj Kumar confirmed that approval for package two has been received and it would take a month’s time to start work. “We have got the approval to shift the trees; work will start soon on package two,” he said.

As per the consent received from the Delhi government, NHAI officials said that they will transplant around 3,500 trees and another 3,000 will be felled for which compensatory afforestation will be done. For the plantation drive, the NHAI has identified chunks of land along the Dwarka Expressway and Yamuna floodplains, officials said, adding that some plantation would also be done on land identified by DDA and the Delhi forest department.

“The highways authority will follow the norms set by the Delhi government and ensure that trees are transplanted safely. For every tree that is felled, we will plant 10 times the number and ensure it survives by ensuring maintenance and care for next five years,” said a senior NHAI official on the condition of anonymity.

Dwarka Expressway is being developed in four packages. Package two is a 4.5-km-long elevated road from Dwarka Sector 21 underpass to the Haryana border. It will comprise separate elevated structures, which will run parallel to each other and have a large interchange to provide connectivity to Gurugram from Najafgarh, Dwarka and west Delhi. There will be eight elevated lanes and six surface lanes with multiple entry and exit points from Urban Estate Road-2 and the India International Convention Centre in Dwarka Sector-25.

Approval for package one, which comprises of 5.3-km stretch from Shiv Murti on NH48 to rail underbridge near Sector 21 is still awaited. Work on packages three and four, which fall in Gurugram, has started and the highway contractor L&T said they are on schedule to complete the road by end of 2020.

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Malls roll out the red carpet for Uniqlo as the Japanese fashion giant takes Zara, H&M head on

“We are always looking out for the right opportunities and avenues for our brands Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, Only and Selected Homme,” said Vineet Gautam.

NEW DELHI: Prominent malls in India are busy creating space for Japan’s “fast fashion” label Uniqlo, the latest global brand they are courting after Zara and Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) brought in the biggest footfalls to shopping centres in recent years.

DLF Place Mall in Saket, New Delhi, is shifting Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, Only and Mothercare to other locations to give Uniqlo about 20,000 square feet on the ground and first floors, according to two people familiar with the development. Bestseller Retail India, the owner of Jack & Jones and Vero Moda, confirmed it is relocating its outlet in DLF Place Mall.

“We are always looking out for the right opportunities and avenues for our brands Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, Only and Selected Homme,” said Vineet Gautam, CEO for Bestseller Retail India. “Where the opportunity seems right, we have transitioned a few of our multi-brand stores to single-brand stores and DLF Saket is one of them. We are very happy with the way things have worked out.” Timmy Sarna, head of DLF Brands, which runs Mothercare, said the store is not being shifted, although two people with direct knowledge confirmed the relocation.

Another popular mall in the National Capital Region is preparing to boot out one of two large department stores to make way for Uniqlo.

“One of them has to go,” the mall head put it bluntly. Inifiniti Mall in Malad and High Street Phoenix mall in Mumbai are in talks with the Tokyo-based retailer even though they don’t currently have empty space of the size required by Uniqlo.

Mall executives said Uniqlo is expected to roll out its stores by Diwali next year or early 2019, completing the global fast fashion triumvirate along with Spain’s Zara and Sweden’s H&M. They said the Japanese fashion retailer is expected to start from New Delhi region, followed by Mumbai, with CBRE negotiating with malls for space. “We have absolutely no information regarding the India plans for the brand,” CBRE said in an email.

Pushpa Bector, head of DLF Shopping Malls, declined to comment. “Uniqlo continues to explore opportunities in new markets as part of its aim to become the world’s leading global apparel retailer,” a spokesperson for Fast Retailing, the owner of Uniqlo, said in an emailed response.

“While India is an attractive market for a great number of the world’s companies, Uniqlo has no concrete plan regarding opening stores in India or any new markets in Asia.” High Street Phoenix mall does not have the space required by Uniqlo. “But we need to create space for them,” a mall official said, asking not to be identified.

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About 20 more homes coming in way of Dwarka Expressway link demolished

As many as 40 houses in Kherki Daula were coming in the alignment of the 150-metre-wide Dwarka Expressway.

GURUGRAM: The authorities have made some progress in clearing buildings that come in the alignment of Dwarka Expressway. Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP), earlier known as Huda, on Tuesday demolished 20 homes that come in the way of the road that will connect the upcoming expressway with NH-8 in Kherki Daula village. The authority had already allotted alternative plots to the house owners in Sector 37C.

As many as 40 houses in Kherki Daula were coming in the alignment of the 150-metre-wide Dwarka Expressway. Of them, owners of nine homes had dispute over the allotment of alternative plots, and they had secured a stay on demolition from Punjab and Haryana high court.

Elaborating about the dispute, HSVP officials said around five house owners have been allotted alternative plots under a high-tension line in Sector 37C, and four house owners were allotted corner plots in violation of the policy. These allotments were challenged before the court, and the HC had stayed the demolition of their homes. Of 31 houses, which are to be demolished, around 20 houses were razed on Tuesday and the remaining houses will be demolished on Wednesday. The drive, which started around 12 noon on Tuesday, continued for around two hours. People had already vacated their homes. Around 400 police personnel were deployed at the spot to avert any untoward incidents.

HSVP administrator Chandrashekhar Khare said houses coming in the alignment of the road had been removed. “House owners were allotted alternative plots around six months ago,” he said.

As per the rule, HSVP can take possession of the land after six months of allotment of the alternative plots. HSVP had issued notices to these house owners, asking them to vacate the land.

Sumer, one of the house owners, who had secured a stay from the high court, said they were allotted alternative plots under the high-tension line in Sector 37C. “We cannot construct homes, and for last one and a half years, we are requesting HSVP officials to allot suitable plots,” he said, adding that the matter is pending before the HC and the next hearing is scheduled for September 24.

The e-way starts from Kherki Daulaa in Gurugram and ends at NH-8 near Shiv Murti near Mahipalpur in Delhi. In Gurugram, it is 18km long, of which 1km falls in Kherki Daula area.

A four-foot wall was constructed at the end of the road obstructing the connectivity of expressway with NH8 before Kherki Daula toll plaza. HSVP had earlier removed several encroachments to ensure smooth flow of traffic on the road and residents of new sectors have been using this route to bypass the toll plaza. “Now, only one vehicle can move at a time. Now with the removal of homes, the width of the road can be increased,” said Ramesh Sharma, a resident of the sector 84.

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Experts cautious and citizens upbeat over Metro expansion

Chattarpur operations sultanpur overhead gurugram

The Haryana government’s announcement of the Metro expansion in the city has drawn mixed responses from citizens and experts.(Photo by Parveen Kumar / Hindustan Times)

The Haryana government’s announcement of the Metro expansion in the city has drawn mixed responses from citizens and experts. Commuters, from both Delhi and Gurugram, who frequently travel to older parts of the city expressed relief at the development. Experts, on the other hand, cautioned that without adequate integration with the city’s bus service and proper road planning, the upcoming corridor can the risk of underperformance in the same manner as the Rapid Metro.

On Monday, during the fourth meeting of the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar approved a detailed project report of a new Metro corridor, which will run from Huda City Centre to Cyber City (via Subash Chowk and Udyog Vihar), for a length of 31km, acting as an extension of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) Yellow Line.

Easy commute

Commuters are hopeful. For Rajesh Joon, who travels daily from Sushant Lok to Udyog Vihar, the expanded corridor will act as a blessing. “It will save me the hassle of haggling with auto drivers, or paying for private cabs,” he said.

Experts agreed that commuters would benefit immensely from the proposed expansion plans. According to a recent survey by the School of Planning and Architecture(SPA) in New Delhi, the DMRC’s Yellow Line sees over 2,80,000 people enter Gurugram each day. “Many of these people use Huda City Centre as an interchange hub for switching between different modes of transport. For those wishing to continue on the extended route, the new Metro corridor will make travel seamless,” said a senior faculty member at the SPA, requesting anonymity.

Private cars versus Metro

Experts, however, raised concerns of whether the project would impact the lives of citizens who live and travel within Gurugram, where private vehicles dominate the city streets. Navdeep Asija, a transport consultant with the government of Punjab, said, “Gurugram is far more dependent on private vehicles than Delhi, and given the relatively short length of the proposed corridor, it might not make much of a dent in the number of private cars and two-wheelers on the roads.” This, experts explained, goes against the fundamental purpose of mass transit systems.

Studies show that people who opt to travel by mass transit systems usually do so for distances of about 15 kilometers or more. “This is why the Metro has been successful in Delhi. But the benefits of extending the Delhi line, for citizens making intra-city trips in Gurugram, is still a matter of concern,” Asija said. According to the aforementioned survey by the SPA, the average “trip length” for a private car in the city is just 9.8km, while the average trip length including other modes of transport (such as autos, two-wheelers, and buses) is even lesser, at 7km.“This does not bode well for the Metro’s ridership prospects. Those who can afford cars will still prefer to use them,” said the senior faculty member at the SPA.

Lessons from the Rapid Metro

Experts also provided the example of Gurugram’s failing Rapid Metro service, which continues to struggle to accrue ridership and revenue. “One of the reasons why the Rapid Metro has failed is because it is built over a six-lane road that runs parallel to National Highway-48. The presence of this road discourages people from using the Rapid Metro,” explained Sarika Panda Bhatt, a city-based transportation consultant.

In Udyog Vihar, through which the expanded corridor is set to pass, road- widening projects are currently in the pipeline. “This will be counter-productive, as it will again give more incentive to private vehicles, which are logistically more convenient, instead of boosting ridership on the Metro,” Bhatt explained.

A better alternative?

Several sections of the citizenry — mainly those living beyond Sector 58, near Sohna Road, and closer to the Dwarka Expressway — have said that the alignment would not benefit the larger population. Prakhar Sahay, president of the Dwarka Expressway RWA, said, “It would have been more viable in the long term to create a Metro line nearer to the Kherki Daula toll plaza that can then be connected to Dwarka in West Delhi, where the Metro lines are already being constructed.” Experts were in consonance with this opinion.

Learning from Delhi’s mistakes

As Gurugram attempts to establish its own intra-city Metro service, multiple experts warned that it would need to learn from Delhi’s mistakes. Bhatt pointed out that 85% of Delhi’s population lives within a few kilometers of a Metro station, yet buses in the Capital are overcrowded due to issues of first- and last-mile connectivity. She said, “The Delhi Metro carries 25 lakh passengers each day, but there are 5,000 buses in the Capital carrying about 50 lakh passengers every day.” This is due to the poor integration of the Metro with the bus system, as well as high ticket prices.

Rohit Prasad, a professor of economics at MDI University, said, “The cost per kilometer of running this service corridor seems to be on the higher side. It might be beneficial to use alternative models, such as peak-load pricing, because of the type of riders the service will attract in Old Gurugram, which is an under-serviced part of the city, where people might not necessarily be able to afford the high price of a Metro ticket.”

A senior functionary in the GMDA’s transport division, said, “We will be closely integrating the bus and Metro services. By the time the Metro is active, the Gurugaman service will be able to meet this requirement.”