Considered to be a boon, the elevated road at National Highway–1 (now called NH-44) has become a bane for residents of the town. As the road has bisected the town in two sections — East and West — commuting on slip roads has become dangerous for residents.
To top it all, the stray cattle menace also compounds the problem for commuters and leads to frequent accidents on the highways.
In the absence of a foot overbridge, the pedestrians, especially students, have no option but to put their lives at risk to reach the other side of the road.
While all appear well for the commuters passing from the town from the elevated road, the chaos at the slip road below shows how the town has been left in utter neglect.
Currently, Amloh Road, Lalhari Road, also known as Chandigarh Road, Samrala Road and Malerkotla Road intersections have become the worst bottlenecks of the town.
Residents said Dhruv Dahiya, the previous senior superintendent of police (SSP), Khanna, had taken some initiatives to streamline traffic flow.
The erratically parked vehicles in the middle of the road used to be challaned but, with the change of command, the police started going soft on encroachers.
FACTORS POSING IMPEDIMENT
Ramesh Aggarwal, a shopkeeper at Lalhari Road, said multiple factors were posing impediment for the smooth traffic flow in the town. “First, vendors have encroached upon the pavements leaving no space for pedestrians. The situation is further compounded when the people park their cars in front of these kiosks. This leads to traffic jams.”
Vinod Kumar, another shopkeeper, said Dahiya had launched a drive to check illegal parking but, after his transfer, the drive was abandoned and it resulted in the increase in jams.
“Such drives should be a permanent feature to keep a check on traffic violators,” said Vinod.
ELEVATED ROAD GENESIS OF PROBLEM
PD Bansal, president of the Lok Sewa Club, Khanna, blames the faulty construction of the flyover for the menace.
Bansal, who had first highlighted the issue of how the construction of flyovers on NH-44 has bisected the town of Khanna, said, “The project had started on September 9, 2009, but the construction had begun in 2010. During that time, we were assured that the flyover would be constructed on pillars and there would be adequate space for parking of vehicles underneath. But, instead of a flyover on pillars, a reinforced earth retaining wall flyover was built and no space was left for parking underneath. This lessens the width of the slip roads, which is leading to chaos in the town. Several protests were held, but our voice never reached the highest echelons of power.”
Highlighting a few factors, contributing to the chaos in the down, Bansal said an alternate slip road was the need of the hour where slow moving vehicles, such as bicycle, two-wheelers and rickshaws, could be shifted.
“Secondly, there is no provision of a footpath for pedestrians and the place where the footpath was available has been encroached upon. A foot overbridge is required especially on the outskirts of the town where educational institutions were located,” observed Bansal.
He said a dedicated passage should be provided for residents of the town. “Currently, no indication or signboard has been installed to alert the commuters heading from Mandi Gobindgarh about the passage for entering the town,” said Bansal.
Sukhdev Singh, who runs a restaurant on the Malerkotla road, said his business had been severely hit due to the construction of a flyover.
“My business has suffered 40% loss due to the construction of a flyover. People travelling from the flyover avoid visiting the town due to traffic chaos.”
Tarsem Bahia, an educationist, rued that the town stood as a classic example of political and bureaucratic neglect and misplaced priorities.
“The dilapidated condition of the town shows the plight of people and callous attitude of the government. Leave alone traffic chaos, even the drains constructed along the highway are choked and damaged at many places. These drains are serving as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Sadly, no one is willing to address our grievances,” he said.
Khanna superintendent of police (SSP) Harpreet Singh said, “I joined only recently and am assessing the situation and traffic bottlenecks. Firstly, slip roads are narrow and could not accommodate the two-way traffic. Secondly, there are not enough parking spaces and no provision has been made to provide parking space underneath the flyover. Even the road outside my office remains full of vehicles due to inadequate parking space. But, we have to tackle all these challenges. We will rope in NHAI officials, if required, and we will also take the help of local NGOs and take their support to solve the traffic problem.”
Yogesh Chandra, project director, NHAI, said, “We will conduct inspection and clear the drains. Signboards have been installed on the slip roads. Foot overbridges will be constructed on the areas falling near educational institutions.”
Vikas Mehta, president, Nagar Council, said, “We have written a letter to Nitin Gadkari, Union road transport and highways minister, urging him for widening the slip road up to three metres on both sides in the town. The space is available and only the road has to be laid. Once the slip road will be widened, it would ease the traffic chaos.”
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