“To my naked eye, #Dehradun cannot take the load of any more new buildings. Wherever one goes; on ones left or right, one only gets to see four storey commercial buildings coming up. This rampant and unabated construction spree is neither wise nor suitable for the sensitive #DoonValley”
What was he thinking?
I am talking about my old friend Anoop Nautiyal, Brand Ambassador Dehradun and Founder – Social Development for Communities Foundation, Uttarakhand, who said these words, apparently a few days back.
Take a guy back to a formerly pristine town that Dehradun was before it became the capital of the newly formed state of Uttarakhand and got developed, and he starts believing that he has to save the world.
Must big cities like Delhi and Gurgaon continue to bear the responsibility for creating ecological disasters? There is something known as a shared responsibility, though I suppose Doon residents would not have heard of it. Hearing Anoop, the common man might even start thinking that all the shiny new buildings in Gurgaon have been built because Gurgaon can take their load. He might even start believing that there is adequate power and water for the common man.
As luck would have it, I was on top of a brand new architectural wonder planned and constructed by the city of Gurgaon, where I live, that was thrown open to the common man to marvel at and benefit from, when I saw this message posted by Anoop. I understand there is confusion about the constitution of the seven wonders of the world, but I also know that there will be no confusion or disagreement about the inclusion of this marvel in the seven wonders, regardless of which the other six may be.
The architectural marvel I am referring to is a flyover. For readers who may be more familiar with other traffic lingo for it, a flyover is an elevated road, like an overbridge, built usually for the purpose of crossing over an obstacle, and getting traffic moving smoothly. The obstacle could be a railway track, it could be a river, it could be another road going across, it could be a traffic signal, or some such thing. There is always something.
“But is a flyover not a common structure that kills the pre-flyover businesses on the road and creates dead spaces where the homeless often take shelter, what with expanding road networks and burgeoning car numbers?” you might ask.
And you would be right. A flyover is indeed commonplace. There must be thousands of them around.
But this is not any flyover. Unlike your ordinary flyover that would have been built over a railway track, or a river, or another road going across, or a traffic signal, or some such thing, this particular flyover goes over nothing. Well, not literally, of course. It is built on the base of solid ground and on top of the flat, ground-hugging road that was already there.
Just to give you an idea of the lay of the land, this is what I am talking about:
The light blue shaded part is the road in question before the flyover came up. There is no railway track, or river, or another road going across, or a traffic signal, or some such thing, that is impeding the flow of traffic. The dark blue structure is meant to indicate the presence of a pedestrian bridge over the road for, what else, facilitating pedestrians crossing the road. It is well understood that the purpose for pedestrians to use an overbridge is to get to the other side, regardless of which side they start from. In this particular case, the purpose of almost all pedestrians to cross this road was to either get to, or from, the HUDA metro station. That being the case, this pedestrian bridge made no effort of delivering its users to, or from, the station. People coming out of the station would take the escalator or stairs down to the ground level and then take the escalator or stairs up the pedestrian overbridge just a few metres on, and then the escalator or stairs down on the other side. This, of course, was done by the handful conscientious ones willing to follow rules and put their lives at risk by climbing a pothole-ridden pedestrian overbridge, while the masses would take the safer route, flag down the traffic and nonchalantly cross the road where you see the thinner dark blue strip across the road on the map.
But what is to be done. If a pedestrian overbridge cannot go into the HUDA metro station, it cannot. End of story.
The other manual addition made by me on the map is the red dot that represents a traffic signal.
And this is the map after the flyover was constructed. The reason you see no difference in the road is because it is an aerial view, from the top. The flyover is exactly on top of the road, which, of course, is still there, buried under the pillars and construction material of the flyover.
But that is not fully correct. I am being unfair. You don’t see the pothole-ridden pedestrian overbridge in the ‘after’ picture. I think it was demolished based on another bold new policy of the government. Since we cannot build pedestrian overbridges in a manner they can be used by pedestrians, why build them at all? Sensible, I suppose. And pragmatic.
And this is the view of the flyover from the side, clicked as I was coming out from the station and down the escalator. You can see the cars waiting for the light to turn green. Fortis Hospital is visible behind it.
So, here I was, having driven up the up part of the flyover, drooling at the prospect of crossing quickly over something that I did not know existed. It was mysterious! Magical! I knew there was no railway crossing or river or road beneath the flyover, but, one does not know what one does not know. There must be something. Maybe the authorities have struck oil in that patch. It would have been difficult to drill with cars and other vehicles honking and running around all the time and trying to fill their tanks for free from the gushing oil. But with traffic diverted to a flyover, the authorities could carry on with the responsibility of running the city. Or maybe they built the flyover just in case they strike oil in that patch in future.
I jammed my brakes as the car ahead of me had stopped. As had the one if front of the one in front of me. As had…I hope you get the picture. I looked up. Actually, I looked down since I was at the pinnacle of the flyover, almost twenty vertical feet clear of where I would have been had there been no flyover. From that vantage point I could see that the traffic light at the bottom of the down part of the flyover was glowing a bright red, with the taillights of most cars ahead of me lit as they were pressing the brakes down.
Would they be jamming down on the brakes if they were waiting at the same traffic signal on a flat road?
WouId I have had this view had this flyover over nothing not been built?
Stop at traffic signal before the flyover is built and stop at same traffic signal after the flyover is built. Fair deal. I silently thanked the authorities and made a mental note to vote for the same people once again.
The transformative power of a revolutionary idea can never be underestimated. I can already see study tours led by city CEOs and corporators from around the world making a beeline to Gurgaon to learn more about this marvel. Personally, we have always struggled with sightseeing choices in Gurgaon whenever someone was visiting us, ending up with detested ones like the Sultanpur bird park and a walk in the Aravali Hills. That problem is now solved. It helps that we live but a ten-minute walk from this wonder.
With the Bermuda Triangle solved and people losing interest in the Yeti, I can even see correspondents of TV channels working on the great mysteries of the world descending in large numbers on Gurgaon, where else, and trying to unravel the new mystery. The cricket game I was watching yesterday was interrupted several times by ads which said, “Sensational discovery; why the Gurgaon flyover was really built. Coming soon to your favourite channel.”