Tragedy on Rohtak road: With two major accidents this year, why residents want a footbridge

The local AAP MLA promised it in April, but says the process ‘takes time’.

WrittenBy:Alenjith K Johny
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Two major accidents this year in the same stretch of road in West Delhi has residents clamouring for a foot overbridge. In both cases, the victims included children who were trying to cross Rohtak road when vehicles, allegedly overspeeding, knocked them down.

But so far, there’s no sign of the much-demanded overbridge and locals are frustrated. “Accidents happen regularly here including both pedestrians and motorcyclists,” said a shop owner on condition of anonymity. “The government should bring in concrete steps to address the issue.”

According to National Crime Record Bureau data from 2021, overspeeding claimed 87,050 lives across India and 4,505 in Delhi. The 2021 Delhi Road Crash Fatality Report estimates that 47 percent of deaths on the road are of pedestrians.

Rohtak road stretches from Peeragarhi metro station to Udogy Nagar metro station – a distance of approximately two km with two major intersections, of which only one has a traffic signal. During peak hours, traffic is heavy. The stretch also includes five or six banquet halls, with vehicles parked outside, often close to the road, leaving little space for pedestrians to squeeze past.

The closest overbridge is half a km away. 

The first accident took place on April 6. Manisha Yadav, Sanjana Kumari and Kalpana Kumari, all aged 18 and living in JJ Colony in Udyog Nagar, were crossing the road at metro pillar 290, a stone’s throw from Peeragarhi metro station. They were heading to school when they were hit by a speeding car. According to news reports, Manisha was flung into the path of a truck. She died on the spot while Sanjana and Kalpana sustained injuries. 

Locals held a protest soon after demanding an overbridge. The Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Nangloi Jat, Raghuvinder Shokeen, promised the families that it would be done.

Then, on December 11, two 14-year-olds, Vanshika Mishra and Maanvi Chauhan, were crossing the road between metro pillars 293 and 294 in Peeragarhi. They were hit by a Maruti Swift car that was reportedly speeding. 

The girls were taken to a hospital where Maanvi was declared dead. Vanshika succumbed to her injuries on December 12. Meanwhile, the car’s driver, Arun Sharma, a resident of Nangloi, was detained on December 11. An FIR, registered the same day at Paschim Vihar West police station, booked him under sections 279, 337 and 304A of the Indian Penal Code.

Ravi Saxena, who witnessed the accident, told Newslaundry it took place at around 4 pm, when Vanshika and Maanvi were on their way from their home in Udyog Nagar’s JJ Colony to Peeragarhi village, where they were attending tuition. According to Indian Express, Maanvi’s father is a farmer and Vanshika’s a peon. The two girls had been “friends for years”.

“Due to the car’s rapid speed, it lost control and knocked over the children crossing the street,” Saxena said. “There isn’t a footbridge in the vicinity and accidents have increased. Because there are no red lights at one intersection and the stretch is long, people drive more quickly.”

On December 12, after Vanshika’s death, a crowd of 300 people, including family members and neighbours, gathered near the scene of the accident and tried to block Rohtak road. They were soon dispersed by the police.

AAP MLA Raghuvinder Shokeen, who had promised the overbridge back in April, told Newslaundry that plans for its construction have been “finalised and cleared by all committees, highways, metro authorities, etc”.

“Its design is in the process of tender and the work will start in the next three months,” he said, adding that the overbridge will come up near metro pillars 298 and 299. “The construction of a foot overbridge has a lot of processes, like the estimated number of people who cross the road, its feasibility, highway authority clearance, designing process, and tender. So, it’s natural to take time.”

Shokeen told Newslaundry the overbridge is estimated to cost Rs 94,77,039.

Meanwhile, NGOs are stepping up efforts to make roads safer. From April 2021 to April 2022, TRAX, a road safety group, partnered with the Gurugram police to redesign pedestrian islands, paint zebra crossings, and install rumble strips and bollards at various points along Hero Honda Chowk.

“Footpaths are often encroached, making little space for pedestrians,” said Anurag Kulshrestha, president and founder of TRAX. “As long as we do not separate pedestrian movement from vehicle movement, it’s hard to obtain a solution. There needs to be channelisation of roads to reduce accidents.” 

He added, “For children and older people, it’s often hard to climb two-storey steps [to the overbridge] and, in most cases, the lift does not work. Authorities should be practical before implementing steps.”

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